There’s been a lot in the news lately about issues that impact renters, and I’m happy to say most of it is good news.
First up is the announcement of a new resource at city hall — the creation of a Renters Office. This office, with its newly dedicated staff person and phone line, will provide a badly needed service to renters in Vancouver on issues ranging from renovictions to rental rates in new developments. It can be reached at 604-673-8291 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Since the majority of Vancouver’s citizens are renters, this addition is a welcome one. Hats off to Pete Fry for his motion, and everyone else who helped made it happen!
Congratulations are also in order to Green Councillor Adriane Carr for her motion asking staff to review all housing programs Vancouver city hall now has, with a view to rewriting them so that affordable housing actually aligns with the incomes of the people who need it. Currently, far too often the rental housing produced as a result of existing city hall policies is far out of reach of the ordinary renter. According to Councillor Carr, more than half of Vancouver households couldn’t afford the rent in city-subsidized rental projects.
Given the fact that developers frequently avoid paying significant amounts of money in development cost levies in return for delivering so-called “affordable” rental housing, this review is very welcome news.
A perfect example of the type of development Councillor Carr’s motion will address is the new, subsidized development planned for East 1 Ave. and Clark Drive. A one-bedroom rental unit in this proposed development would require an income of $48,000 a year or just over $23 an hour, hardly affordable in my books and definitely not geared to low-income renters. A person earning $15/hour has an annual income of just over $31,000 net — making those suites impossible to afford. (And that’s not close to minimum wage, which is currently $12.65, meaning $26,000 annually. Minimum wage won’t hit $15 until 2021!).
All in all, last week was a good one for Vancouver’s renters. Let’s hope that this new city council will continue to address the needs of renters.