Vancouver mayor to introduce housing program aimed at middle-income earners

Image: Arthur Da Silva / Flickr

Mayor says program would make home ownership possible for households making $80K per year.

Vancouver’s mayor is set to introduce a new housing program that he says would allow middle-income earners to own homes in neighbourhoods where they’ve been priced out.

In a media release, Kennedy Stewart says almost 60 per cent of residential neighbourhoods in the city are reserved for homes that only the top 2.5 per cent of earners can afford to buy.

He says the program, dubbed Making Home, would make home ownership possible for households making $80,000 a year.

It would allow existing homeowners to create up to four market homes on a standard lot, provided that two additional below-market homes are set aside as affordable for middle-income households.

“We know that tens of thousands of residents are looking for better options to create vibrant communities and stay in Vancouver, but these kinds of homes simply don’t exist for middle-income households,” Stewart said in the media release from the city.

“This policy addresses social, economic and environmental equity, and it allows Vancouverites to make better use of our existing land base.”

Up to 100 individual projects will be allowed in neighbourhoods zoned for single-family detached homes and duplexes, with certain requirements and restrictions related to the height of any new builds, the retention of trees, the preservation of rental units and homes with heritage designation.

Jake Fry, co-chair of Small Housing B.C., helped draft the proposal and says the plan is dramatic and subtle at the same time.

“We’re looking at communities helping themselves build and reinvigorate the type of housing that is currently there, and making it attainable for a much more broad array of incomes,” Fry said.

He says homeowners will have the opportunity to redevelop or make additions to their properties, adding more living units without increasing the size of the home by too much.

Fry says the city won’t be funding any of these projects, but suggests if homeowners can’t fund the projects themselves, they could partner with a small builder or B.C. Housing.

Jennifer Bradshaw with Abundant Housing Vancouver says she’s excited by the project, but predicts the majority of units will go to the children of homeowners.

“There just aren’t going to be enough available,” said Bradshaw. “This doesn’t necessarily help us, but it will help some people.”

Stewart is expected to introduce the program on Wednesday, with the goal of sending proposed guidelines for the pilot project to city council for consideration by the second quarter of next year.