When we lived in our old condo, I used to pass the Heather Place Co-op. I’ve spoken before of housing co-ops, and what they can mean for people, like I used to be, who can hardly afford any housing in this city, let alone family housing. Heather Place offered 86 families a place to stay in the city, and I was surprised (and curious) to see that there was a new development going in on their property.
What does that mean for the people living there?
According to the City of Vancouver,
MVHC is undertaking this re-development project as it reflects the goals and objectives set out in Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth and Affordable Housing Strategies as well as Vancouver’s Housing and Homelessness Strategy. The goal is to provide more rental accommodation in a city and region desperately in need of affordable housing.
- Currently there are 86 rental units. The re-development project is currently planned to be a 100% rental development.
- We plan to provide between 200 to 300 rental homes on the site that fit into the neighbourhood.
- We are being sensitive to local neighbourhood needs such as: aesthetics, trees and green space, changing demographics, traffic/parking and changing transportation habits, and access to amenities.
Right now, of the 86 homes, 26 are rented at rent rates that are geared to income — that means subsidized. The people who live there pay less than market rates. But the other suites, although they are not subsidized, pay less — much less — than other suites in the area. This story in the Vancouver Sun says that the highest rent is $1095 per month — that’s incredibly budget-priced compared to the $2000+ they could expect to pay for a two-bedroom suite in this part of the city. It’s close to a Sky-Train station going downtown or to the airport; to City Hall; to Vancouver General Hospital; to Broadway and its transit and shopping. Believe me, I lived there for 13 years — this is one great (and high-priced) neighbourhood. V5Z — one of the most expensive postal codes in the country.
The new development of this area means more rental suites for the city — and that’s good. If the city can plop another 100 or 200 suites in that neighbourhood it will be great for everyone. And as the Vancouver Sun article pointed out,
If construction is done in stages, it might be possible for subsidized tenants to stay where they are until they can be moved into completed units
But the non-subsidized suites will definitely be more expensive. About $1600 a month — still reasonable for the neighbourhood, but more than the current tenants are used to paying.
I’m torn (as usual). I can see the city’s need to inject more rental suites in the neighbourhood — and into the city. And I’m happy the people who are receiving subsidized housing will continue to do so. But I do feel bad for the other 60 families who will either have to forgo other luxuries — or basics — to afford to live there or will have to move out of the neighbourhood. And judging by the rental prices in the rest of the city, they will have to move waaaayyyyyy out of the neighbourhood.