Community Land Trust to add to rental stock

Fraser River waterfront

The City of Vancouver, home to the highest home prices and rents in the country, has approved a new strategy within the past month which aims to add to its rental stock at market and non-market rates. Under the new plan, Vancouver will lease four-city owned parcels of land for 99 years to the Community Housing Land Trust Foundation – a registered charity. The Trust will in turn sub-lease the four sites to four parterns (the Fraserview Housing Co-operative, the Tikva Housing Society, the Katherine Sanford Housing Society, and the HFBC Housing Foundation), who will develop 355 units of rental housing (273 at below-market rates). The four partners will operate the rental housing after its completion – using revenue from the 82 market-price units to support the non-market units. The funding for the construction of the housing will be borrowed by the Trust and drawn from the own equity of the four involved non-profit partners. The four sites are at 1700 Kingsway, 2910 E. Kent Avenue, 2780 Southeast Marine Drive, and 2800 Southeast Marine Drive.

The Tyee reports:

Vancouver city council has drawn as much criticism as praise for its land trust project from housing advocates who say there’s no guarantee of real affordability. “There are loose, floating ‘targets’ for below-market rents,” said Tim Louis, a former Vancouver city councillor with the Coalition of Progressive Electors. “But just look at the Olympic Village to see what happens when there are no guarantees built-in from the start.”

People who work in housing at the municipal and provincial levels often speak extensively about how Canada lacks a federal housing policy. In Swanson’s view [Jean Swason – Carnegie Community Action Project], the fanfare around the new community land trust project undermines the city’s own goals in lobbying for a national housing plan. “The city is trumpeting this as a great thing, and by doing that, it undermines its own ability to lobby for a federal, provincial housing program, because it makes it appear that everything is okay and we don’t have a crisis,” she says. “In 2007, the city had 14 lots, and they designated them for social housing. And then they went after the senior governments to get funding for those lots. And they got it,” Swanson recalls.

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