No room in the rental market for minimum wage workers

The City of Vancouver looking at options for affordable housing

Kennedy Stuart speaks at the press conference after Tuesdays council meeting. Photo by Austin Everett
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Reported by Austin Everett

Vancouverites could see rental-only zones recommended later this year to the City of Vancouver in efforts to provide minimum wage-earning citizens with a chance to enter the rental market, according to the Vancouver mayor. 

Mayor Kennedy Stewart said during a city council meeting that minimum wage workers have no chance of entering the rental market, adding that implementing rental-only zones starting with the land around the Broadway plan could help that situation.

Uneven distribution

The City of Vancouver reported an update on the past two years of their affordable housing strategy at Tuesday’s meeting. The housing plan unveiled statistics showing large gaps in supply for citizens who earn $15,000 to $30,000 annually, while those earning 80 thousand or more have enough supply. Last year no housing was created to bridge that gap.

“I am sobered by the whole report,” Stewart said, referring to the lack of housing built for those making under 30 thousand dollars annually. 

A deeper impact

The gap in affordable housing effects more than individuals, it affects the economy on a larger scale, said Stewart. He said that finding staff for restaurants and cafes in parts of the city is a challenge. 

“We need diversity in our economy to make this work,” said Stewart. He said that him and city hall have much work to do. 

Dan Garrison, the senior planner at the City of Vancouver said that the lengthy housing approval process is partially to blame for the gap in supply. 

“The length of time it takes to make a decision to when you’re actually receiving revenue of the project is far too long.”

The city will look into expediting the permit process for builders. Garrison said that more people would likely invest in projects, which means more buildings resulting in more housing. 

Councillor Melissa De Genova said that increasing density is imperative, and having young people in Vancouver is crucial to economic diversity. 

“We should look at creative and unique partnerships to provide that affordable housing,” De Genova said.

There are 630 social housing units are currently under construction in 2019, with more government funding coming in the future, according to Garrison.

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