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Vancouver Affordable Housing Programs Could Be the Envy of the Continent

It will take a combination of local, provincial, and federal funding, but Vancouver, B.C. recently approved the most ambitious vision anywhere in North America to directly address homelessness and housing affordability challenges.
October 21, 2020, 8am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Vancouver, British Columbia
The Olympic Tent Village in Vancouver, British Columbia, pictured in February 2020.
Stephen Hui

"In an effort to tackle the affordable housing crisis that has become a visible reality in tent cities and on downtown streets, Vancouver city council last week passed a motion to devote $30-million to the problem. It’s just one of the city’s recent moves to deal with the housing crisis," reports Kerry Gold.

"The money will be used to provide temporary housing by either leasing or purchasing units in hotels and vacant buildings or single room occupancy hotels," adds Gold.

In September, the federal government of Canada announced $1 billion new affordable housing funding for the country. Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart is quoted in the article saying that the city is responding to the federal government's willingness to provide funding for housing since the pandemic began. "[Stewart is] hoping the federal government will also invest in co-op housing, a housing choice that helped make False Creek South an affordable neighbourhood," reports Gold.

In a separate article on a related housing program, Jen St. Denis provides detailed coverage of Vancouver's newly approved plans to leverage that potential federal funding to invest in single-room occupancy (SRO) buildings, separate from the $30 million plan highlighted by Gold.

St. Denis explains the SRO program:

Under the plan, the city will pursue $1 billion in funding from the provincial and federal governments to buy up to 105 SRO hotel buildings. Around 2,500 rooms in the buildings would be renovated or redeveloped into self-contained units with their own bathrooms.

St. Denis includes a soundbite from Wendy Pedersen, a housing activist who founded the SRO Collaborative, in the article. Pedersen says, "Not since the early ’70s has the city been so bold in its vision and so responsive to community," according to the article.

The article includes more details on the history of SROs in the city, and the potential of $1 billion to transform Downtown Eastside and the city by providing new housing opportunities for the city's most vulnerable residents.

Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, October 14, 2020 in Globe and Mail
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