Upcoming Events: Jim Green Memorial Lecture & Tom Burrows Exhibit

Jim Green Memorial Lecture

Margot Young will be speaking on a panel about building a legacy of social housing in Vancouver, as part of an event commemorating former Vancouver City Councillor Jim Green.  The event will take place at SFU Woodwards on February 26, at 7:00pm.  The panel will be hosted by City Councillor Geoff Meggs, and will feature three other housing experts.  (SFU)

 

Conversations: Tom Burrows Exhibit

On January 29 and February 27, 2015, 1-2 pm, UBC’s Belkin Art Gallery will be hosting a dialogue around the Tom Burrows exhibit.  Margot Young will be speaking on February 27, on “Contested landscapes / Forms of justice and activism,” along with a professor from the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.  (Belkin Art Gallery)

This Week in Housing News: Margot Young’s CTV Interview and Cheap Mansion Living

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Margot Young: Affordable Housing in Vancouver on CTV

Housing Justice Project principle co-investigator Margot Young was interviewed on CTV Vancouver regarding Demographia’s recent survey ranking Vancouver the second most unaffordable housing market in the world again, after Hong Kong.  Vancouver’s affordability situation is especially dire due to a disconnect between low local wages, and high housing costs.  (CTV)

 

Low-Rent Mansion Living? In Vancouver? Really?

Vancouver’s housing crisis has forced those seeking housing to find creative ways of entering the market.  So, why not get your group of friends, pool your resources, and live together in a mansion?  The Tyee profiles one group of friends living in a $5 million mansion overlooking the Fraser River,  complete with six bedrooms.  (The Tyee)

 
Ransford: Single-family zones could solve shortage

One of the potential pieces of the puzzle to achieving more affordable housing in Vancouver, says Bob Ransford in the Vancouver Sun, may be to reconsider the role of single family-zoned residential neighbourhoods, RS-1.  Could streamlining the reclassification of traditional single family residential neighbourhoods allow the City to densify its largest lots? (Vancouver Sun)

Margot Young Interviewed on Co-op Radio

Housing Justice’s Margot Young spoke on Vancouver’s Co-op Radio, 100.3 fm, about the legal right to housing today.  On a special episode of the Common Law Radio show focused on the law around rental housing, Margot was featured along with Jill Atkey of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association.  Margot spoke about the constitutional basis of the right to housing, highlighting the Tanudjaja case in Ontario.

Listen to the broadcast here:  Common Law Radio.  Margot’s segment begins at 39 minutes.

 

Penny Gurstein Speaks at Grandview-Woodlands Citizens’ Assembly

Penny Gurstein, co-Principal Investigator of the Housing Justice Project, spoke to the Grandview-Woodlands Citizens’ Assembly on December 15, providing her expertise on the topic of affordable housing.  As the Citizens’ Assembly focuses more on specific policy recommendations, the provision of affordable housing and preventing displacement are major priorities.

Penny’s remarks are summarized below:

Penny Gurstein, a professor with the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning, began by questioning some assumptions. She said density does not necessarily create affordability, especially in a property market like Vancouver’s. “This has become a mantra that we need to be looking at very, very carefully.”

Gurstein said Vancouver has advantages, such as a sympathetic lender in Vancity and a robust non-profit housing sector. But she noted that the key tool in Vancouver is the community amenity contribution. These are public benefits negotiated by the City of Vancouver and the developer of new projects, usually in return for increased density. Gurtstein said these are often used for other benefits [such as daycares and arts venues], and that a study by the Housing Justice project [http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Developers+exemption+doing+little+Vancouver+affordability/10461518/story.html] at UBC suggests that from 2010 to 2012 only a couple hundred units of affordable housing were created in this manner.

The municipality of Whistler, she said, has used its housing authority effectively to develop housing geared toward those who work in the resort, and there are other international models. Vancouver’s own move earlier this year create a housing authority, she added, may improve the municipality’s performance.

The real issue, she said, is high land costs, noting that the City of Vancouver holds a lot of land that it sometimes rents for a nominal value. Gurstein pointed also to the community land trust model, where escalating land values are essentially taken out of the equation in developing new housing.

When asked if enough attention is paid to small-scale affordable rental available in private residences, Gurstein said such landlords sometimes see themselves as social service providers, and that the federal government has at times provided tax incentives to create such rental housing, but they generally aren’t treated as others are in the provision of rental housing. Andrew Pask added that about three-quarters of Grandview-Woodland’s rental stock was purpose built, and 20 to 25 percent is available as secondary suites or condominiums that are being rented.

The full record of the proceedings from the December 15 Citizens’ Assembly meeting can be found here: Granview-Woodlands Citizens’ Assembly.

This Week In Housing News

This week saw research from the Housing Justice Project’s Penny Gurstein featured in two stories.  The Vancouver Sun looked at the impact that CACs are having on affordability in Vancouver, while the Globe & Mail reported on homelessness in the city.  The Toronto Star also featured the affordability stories of five Toronto neighbourhoods, using research from David Hulchanski, a professor at the University of Toronto.

 

Developers’ exemption doing little for Vancouver’s affordability crisis: UBC study

Research from the Housing Justice Project shows that very little of the Community Amenity Contributions charged to developers are directed toward affordable housing, despite strong evidence that such assistance is sorely needed in Vancouver.  Data on how CAC funds are spent is scarce, but Vancouver’s Chief Housing Officer insists that more affordable housing units have been financed through CACs since the period covered in the Housing Justice Project’s research.  Housing Justice Project principal co-investigator Penny Gurstein recommends that the city set specific targets for establishing affordable housing through the CAC program.  (Vancouver Sun)

 

Vancouver police refute ‘spike’ in crime near new housing projects

The Vancouver Police Department has responded to an assertion made by the North False Creek Business and Residents Association, which claimed in a petition that the opening of a shelter at 900 Pacific St has led to a “spike” in crime.  The VPD confirmed that they had not seen an increase in crime in the area.  The organizers of the petition demand that shelters be removed from their neighbourhood.  Penny Gurstein commented that relocating services to the Downtown Eastside is not a solution.  Rather, homelessness is a city-wide issue, and those who experience homelessness may benefit from living outside of the Downtown Eastside.  (Globe & Mail)

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 7.57.31 PMA tale of income inequality in five Toronto neighbourhoods

The Toronto Star traces the changes in income inequality in different areas of the city using research from David Hulchanski.  The general trend shows a growing polarization in terms of wealth, which is a concern to academcis and policy-makers alike.  (Toronto Star)

This Week in Housing News: Research from the Housing Justice Project!

This week saw research from the Housing Justice Project’s Penny Gurstein featured in two stories.  The Vancouver Sun looked at the impact that CACs are having on affordability in Vancouver, while the Globe & Mail reported on homelessness in the city.  The Toronto Star also featured the affordability stories of five Toronto neighbourhoods, using research from David Hulchanski, a professor at the University of Toronto.

 

Developers’ exemption doing little for Vancouver’s affordability crisis: UBC study

Research from the Housing Justice Project shows that very little of the Community Amenity Contributions charged to developers are directed toward affordable housing, despite strong evidence that such assistance is sorely needed in Vancouver.  Data on how CAC funds are spent is scarce, but Vancouver’s Chief Housing Officer insists that more affordable housing units have been financed through CACs since the period covered in the Housing Justice Project’s research.  Housing Justice Project principal co-investigator Penny Gurstein recommends that the city set specific targets for establishing affordable housing through the CAC program.  (Vancouver Sun)

 

Vancouver police refute ‘spike’ in crime near new housing projects

The Vancouver Police Department has responded to an assertion made by the North False Creek Business and Residents Association, which claimed in a petition that the opening of a shelter at 900 Pacific St has led to a “spike” in crime.  The VPD confirmed that they had not seen an increase in crime in the area.  The organizers of the petition demand that shelters be removed from their neighbourhood.  Penny Gurstein commented that relocating services to the Downtown Eastside is not a solution.  Rather, homelessness is a city-wide issue, and those who experience homelessness may benefit from living outside of the Downtown Eastside.  (Globe & Mail)

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 7.57.31 PMA tale of income inequality in five Toronto neighbourhoods

The Toronto Star traces the changes in income inequality in different areas of the city using research from David Hulchanski.  The general trend shows a growing polarization in terms of wealth, which is a concern to academcis and policy-makers alike.  (Toronto Star)

 

This Week in Housing News: Public Housing Policy & Housing Rights

B.C. government off-loading public housing with Stamps Place sale, Jenny Kwan says

MLA Jenny Kwan comments on the Provincial government’s recent action to sell Stamps Place, a social housing development, to non-profit agencies.  She believes that this is part of a broader trend of the government stepping back from its role in providing social housing, as she does not believe that the government will maintain the subsidies supporting renters.  (The Georgia Strait)

 

Should housing be a human right? Experts across Canada sound off

In Ontario, a recent Court of Appeal ruling determined that it is the role of the government to decide whether housing should be a human rights.  Advocates intend to bring the case to the Supreme Court.  Metro News reports on the opinions of several housing experts on the matter.  (Metro News)

Bob Rae: Whether in Toronto or Attawapiskat, housing policy a dismal failure

Bob Rae highlights the extent of Canada’s housing problems, from the troubling colonial relationships governing First Nations reserves, to the off-loading of housing responsibilities to municipal governments.  Ultimately, he claims, Canada needs to reprioritize housing and  restructure its housing strategy.  (Globe & Mail)

Rental Crunch: Housing minister warns of possible hikes under rent-control system

BC Housing Minister Rich Coleman has suggested that he may relax rent control measures, which currently restrict the amount that landlords can increase rents each year to 2% plus the rise of the Consumer Price Index.  Coleman suggests that the current rules to not fully allow landlords to cover costs such as increases in property taxes, but renters’ advocacy groups say that the changes will significantly hurt renters.  (The Province)

 

Few Options for Homeless as San Jose clears camp

Authoriets have cleared out the Jungle, a homeless encampment that was home to 300 inhabitants in San Jose.  The Jungle had existed for about a year and a half, and at 68 acres, was one of the country’s largest makeshift settlements.  Unfortunately, very few measures have been put in place to support those who have been displaced by the clearing of the settlement, and many former inhabitants have few prospects.  (New York Times)