If anyone out there has read any posts on this site by me..they might have noticed my passion about affordable housing in Vancouver.
Homelessness is HUGE in our local media. Politicians of all ranks and privileges do face time in front of refurbished hotels or new shelters. Pledges and promises are made. Over and over.
And yes, getting people of the streets IS important..both short and long term solutions are needed.
But I notice, that for those folks who just squeak by, the home situation is pretty dire too. Very dire according to the manager of Metro Vancouver Housing who stated at a recent tenants meeting that there are over ten thousand people waiting for what he calls ‘Lower end of market rental units.
Buying a house for a family in Vancouver is only really available to a very select few. Yes, most nowadays do with townhouses and condos. They sacrifice space for trendy and lively neighbourhoods. Most families are double income set ups.
So the next alternative is renting. There are condos and townhomes and suites of all kinds available. But Vancouver has one of the lowest vacancy rates and the fight to keep rents at realistic prices is never ending.
Not all are suited for families. Not all are near schools or good schools.
For those at the lower end of the scale there has been BC Housing. BC Housing has provided subsidized housing for families and others in need in BC for many years. They too have struggled with funding from private and public partnerships and an aging stock of homes.
The City of Vancouver has pretty much given up any sort of affordable housing plans apart from shelters and SRO hotels. They sure talked the talk with the legacy of social housing at the Olympic Village, but I never believed that in the first place.
The other alternative in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland is the little known Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation. For over 30 years now, this wholly owned, board run corporation has provided low and subsided rental properties geared to families, those with disabilities and seniors.
Apparently now my own complex is the about the ONLY one that provides ‘low rent’ and the majority is apparently subsidized in some way.
We are a sticking point with them now because apparently we never showed ‘need based on income’ for these lower rates. Â This is a bit bizarre because we all remember filling out income information when applying and everyone I know living there does so because it is the only way they can provide decent (and that is the key word) housing in a good area for their families.
It is also a sticking point because the CMHC (that mandates the rates) froze our rates for years. This according to Don Littleford, the Manager, is one reason why they are in such budgetary hell right now and why the place is falling apart.
Anyway…I want to stick with the key word here - decent – instead of going into the gory details about our rent increase as that really is an aside at the moment.
Apart from the fact that organizations like the MVHC used to be supported by the Federal Government to maintain these lower rents and no longer is.
They ARE trying to push a new bill through ( BILL C-304) when Parliament comes back from the Olympics. This bill basically replaces the old policies about sustaining affordable housing in Canada.
Ujjal Dosanjh held a town hall meeting last night to address the affordable housing crisis in our area and many from our complex were attending. I could not attend as we had been out all day and at a tenants meeting the night before and I knew my kids would not sit through another boring night of grown up speak.
I do hope that ideas were found to put pressure back on the various governments to support affordable housing strategies. Especially for families.
The people in my complex are all hard working people. Â There is a mix of single income, double income and single parental families living here, with a dash of senior citizens too.
It is not a complex of slackers. Though indeed there are the few that give the place a bad name with their messes etc. Most keep clean homes and are happy that they live in a place with great amenities for the children and close to their places of work. Some have cars, some do not. None, unlike Mr. Littlefords opinion, are here bucking the system and living in the lap of luxury whooping it up due to the cheap rents. I don’t hear about anyone heading away on great vacations. I don’t see anyone driving fancy cars. I see people getting by.
Mr Littleford seems to come from the attitude that tends to prevail out there..that if you rent and rent on the low scale then you must be doing something wrong.
And perhaps this is why the working poor don’t get as much media coverage or sympathy.
And boy did it. Many tenants attended the board meeting about the increases and it was enough to slow down the process until September of this year. I assume in between they were figuring a ‘nicer’ way to broach it.
They get an epic fail mark for that.
But again, aside from all that. The key issue is that Vancouver has a NEED for affordable family housing. People of all incomes who work in Vancouver should be able to live in Vancouver. It should not be home to an elite few.
In my view, the whole concept of a sustainable, green and efficient city requires a mixed bag of income earners supporting the whole infrastructure.
These ideas USED to exist. That was how False Creek and Champlain Heights were developed in the first place.
But since Vancouver seems to thrive solely on the backs of real estate development, these ideas would not fly today.
Affordable housing needs to be the priority of all levels of government. The quality of life for our future generations is crucial. Our children deserve clean, safe environments to exist in. They deserve community support like daycare and good community schools.
So many issues would vanish if our children were taken care of. Part of that means providing decent housing for their parents.
I urge all people to pressure their government reps of all levels from city to the vacationing feds to bring back support and funding of affordable family housing.
Everyone deserves a good place to live.