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Renting for life might be the reality for many Vancouver residents

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Reported by Alyse Kotyk

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Site of one of the City of Vancouver’s approved development projects in the River District in Vancouver. Photo by: Alyse Kotyk

The City of Vancouver recently announced it will build 250 affordable rental units in South Vancouver’s River District, but Generation Squeeze, a housing campaign that advocates for affordable home ownership, says it is not enough.

Paul Kershaw, the founder of the national collaboration, said the rental units will help, but the city still has a lot of work to do to reduce pressure in Vancouver’s housing market.

“You bet, 250 units is a start,” said Kershaw. “It’s not unimportant, but ultimately we need to make our market and the broader supply that’s currently available more in reach for a younger demographic.”

Renting for life

Kershaw and others from Generation Squeeze met with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson on Oct. 17 to address housing affordability. While Generation Squeeze focuses on ownership, Kershaw said renting long-term might be the reality for many Vancouver residents.

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South Vancouver’s River District will be home to 250 new affordable rental units built by the City of Vancouver in Vancouver. Photo by: Alyse Kotyk

“Renting for life is something that our demographic is going to have to become increasingly proud of and happy of and content with,” said Kershaw, “that means there needs to be a stock of suitably sized rentals that can give a younger demographic the stability they need.”

City of Vancouver chief housing officer Mukhtar Latif said rental units tend to be more accessible than owning a home.

“We are interested in implementing an affordable home ownership program,” said Latif. “But the rental program is obviously something we can influence a lot more and that’s where we’ve been concentrating our resources because it’s much easier for people to access rental housing.”

Langara student Harmilan Nandha said he would prefer if the city focused on affordable home ownership and suggested that it would have ripple effects from owners to suite renters.

“I think they must put pressure on the home ownership,” said Nandha. “It will directly reduce the price which we pay to stay in their basement.”

Construction on the 250 units will begin next spring on three city-owned sites in the River District.

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