The latest site to become approved for the development of social housing in Vancouver is Fire Hall No.5 in Champlain Heights, which was scheduled to be torn down until recently. Brenda Prosken, the City’s Community Services Mangager, has stated “it is our intention to construct an affordable housing facility above the fire hall. The site is well located across from a shopping centre and on an arterial [road] with accessible bus transportation, which makes it an optimal housing location.”
Fire Hall no.5 will join the likes of the recently developed market value units above the Mount Pleasant Community Centre (initiated under the Mayorship of Philip Owen), and the Vision-approved library for Strathcona, which will also have subsidized housing built above it.
Title design by Mary Castellanes
Music by Jeremy Lim
The Village is one of many short films created by a group of young media-makers discussing the housing crisis in Vancouver, BC, Canada, as part of the Housing Matters Media Project in partnership with the Housing Justice Project in UBC.
In response to the growing crisis surrounding housing affordability and accessibility in Metro Vancouver, the Housing Justice Project seeks input on housing experiences of residents in the region. The survey results are meant to understand the state of housing conditions in Vancouver and assist in developing appropriate affordable housing policies and strategies.
Starting January 8, 2013, an online survey will be available for all Lower Mainland residents to take on PlaceSpeak, a community-consultation platform designed to connect residents to local issues through verified, non-anonymous online engagement. Registering with PlaceSpeak is free, and all information is private. The survey will be available online for a six-month period in order to gain as many results as possible.
The survey is part of the Housing Justice Project, which seeks to address housing issues in Vancouver through actions organized under three interacting strands: public engagement, policy development, and legal rights advocacy. Co-principal investigators Dr. Penny Gurstein, director of UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning, and Margot Young, associate professor of Law at UBC, bring significant experience working on housing and social justice initiatives in their respective fields. Funding for the project has been provided by the Peter Wall Solutions Initiative.
To take the survey, click on the Get Involved tab above to learn more.
A recent study by UBC researchers David Ley and Nicholas Lynch, “Divisions and Disparities: Social-Spatial Income Polarization in Greater Vancouver, 1970-2005”, highlights Vancouver’s growing income inequality. The study compared 35 years of census data from 1970 to 2005. Researchers noted that during that time the social geography of Vancouver was radically transformed.
Vancouver’s increasing income disparity takes two forms. The first is a growing inequality between rich and poor; the gap between the incomes of rich and poor is increasing. The second is a growing polarization of income; there are now more high income and poor neighbourhoods, and middle class neighbourhoods are now virtually non-existent within Vancouver proper.
Wealthy areas of the city have grown larger through accretion at their borders, and the rich living in those areas have seen their wealth deepen. At the other end of the spectrum, the number of low income neighbourhoods has increased and their income has been stagnant or declining. The most disturbing finding of the study is that this change has been happening along racial lines: the poor and declining neighbourhoods are disproportionately comprised of visible minorities and immigrants.
So what does increasing income inequality mean for housing affordability?
While the study’s authors make no conclusions about housing affordability, the census data presented indicates that “unaffordability” is rising equally across all income levels. This implicitly indicates that housing affordability has decreased somewhat and has affected all socioeconomic groups equally.
But is this actually the case in Vancouver?
It is arguable that the census data presented fails to document income inequality’s effect on housing affordability for the poor, and that Ley and Lynch’s research on income polarization should give rise to concern about the polarization of housing affordability.