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Securing the 21st century for Vancouver’s middle class

I was born and raised in Vancouver and the city of my childhood is gone.  The future of Vancouver will feature more height, development and transit, creating very walkable communities.  That works for me because I like the future but will this future include the middle class?

Vancouver’s middle class used to have housing options they could afford but today many of these workers and their families are being forced out of Vancouver.  The question is how to do we harness this development and investment in a way that benefits all stakeholders?

The City of Vancouver has responded to this affordability crisis by focusing on the creation of affordable housing units which help low income people and builds on the significant investments made by the BC Liberal Government.  The concept currently being used is to have new development pay for low income units.

The problem is those of us in the middle who grew up in Vancouver our average incomes don’t qualify for affordable housing and are priced out of the market by high land costs, development costs and construction costs.  Even new market rental units are expensive in Vancouver.  There must be a better way to use our city’s growth to ensure the middle class will survive in Vancouver.

Let’s create a new pathway to homeownership in Vancouver – let’s call it Obtainable Housing.  Instead of using development to just create low income units, we can use it to create units for those of us with family incomes below $100k and above $35k.

My idea to create Obtainable Housing in Vancouver with these suggested development approval changes.

  1. Mass Timber Wood buildings and all proposals over 9 stories will be fast tracked and prioritized ahead of all other developments.
  2. Development along transit corridors is fast tracked as long as 5 to 15 stories of new buildings must be sold to families or individuals with incomes from $35k to $100K at $300 per square foot.
    • Properties along transit corridors can build 5 to 15 stories higher = stories of Obtainable Housing.
  3. Developers/Investors/Property Owners can vend in strata units currently being built providing them a height bonus on a future project.
    • This will bring units on the market faster by accessing the current supply of investor owned properties for increased high value development rights. Remember we are inventing the real estate.  So, we can direct the benefits where we like.

Suggested Obtainable Housing qualifications and requirements.

  1. Having rented for 10 years or more in Vancouver.
    • Priority given to those with 15+ years of renting in Vancouver.
  2. Have a job or business based in Vancouver.
  3. Age 27 to 50 may apply.
    • 1 Bedroom(500sqft) – singles or couples
    • 2 Bedroom(850sqft) – singles or couples with 1-2 dependants
    • 3 Bedrooms(1100sqft) – singles or couples with 2+ dependents
  4. With priority given to those who graduated from a Vancouver High School. (Yes, I want to see those who were raised in Vancouver given an opportunity to stay in Vancouver)

Suggested Rules for purchasing an Obtainable Home

All units will be purchased for $300 per sqft with a restriction on title that provides the purchasers a 1% increase per year for 25 years if they have to sell.  Government will have the first right of refusal for any units sold during that period with any profits being used to create more obtainable housing.

These are market units with a restriction on resale to encourage middle class to stay in Vancouver.  This is about them living here, supporting our local businesses, paying property taxes to support our vital government services and to prevent urban sprawl.

If done right, it will open up much need rental units and ensure the knowledge workers have a place in the future of Vancouver.

Vancouver can not just be a city of the rich and poor.

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