A New Fair Deal on Housing, and Five Quick Start Actions to Help Us Get There

I released a new video today, describing our Green Party goal for a new deal on housing, and announcing five bold quick start actions the City could immediately pursue to ease Vancouver’s housing crisis.
 
We need to shift development in Vancouver. As a city, we must ensure that we are building more housing that’s affordable for local people instead of for the luxury market and speculators.

Ultimately this means using the city’s power over land use decisions to prioritize purpose-built rental on City and public lands that is truly affordable to local incomes; and on private lands increasing the amount of developer cost levies and contributions to support affordable housing or extracting publicly owned housing outright.
 
But while other parties continue to call for solutions that ultimately require the support of senior government to change tenancy laws, property taxation or invest in public housing. We’ll advocate to senior government for those kinds of actions, but we need to get started right here and right now in our city with things we can actually do.
 
These Five quick start actions the city can do immediately will help get us there and address the urgency of our housing crisis:
 
1. Change city by-laws to make affordable mean affordable: fixing housing prices to local incomes, not market rates.

Adriane Carr put forward a motion to fix the City’s definition of "affordable housing" to local incomes, but to get it seconded it was weakened to only require only a staff report, not the actual change. With another Green on City Council, we can second this motion and introduce it for public debate under its original intent.
 
2. Call for a one-year moratorium on demolition of purpose-built rental housing, and strengthen the Tenant Relocation and Protection Guidelines.

During the moratorium the city will work on a plan to both retain and restore older affordable apartment buildings as well as build and maintain new purpose-built rental through funding that Greens have been pushing for including re-instating federal tax incentives and creating a new Vancouver Carbon Trust. Update the Tenant Relocation and Protection by-law to ensure landlords aren’t using loopholes to renovict and displace tenants and that residential tenancies are protected city-wide. 

3. Protect and increase secondary and basement suites by making it easy to legalize them.
 
Protect neighbourhoods and affordability while giving new life to old buildings. Secondary and basement suites make up some of Vancouver’s most affordable rental housing. Amend the Secondary Suite Program to encourage secondary suites as incentives for retaining character homes, as opposed to multi-conversion dwelling process typically done by developers under the current framework.
 
4. Launch a city-wide plan to involve citizens in deciding how to add density, affordability and “missing middle” housing into their neighbourhoods.
 
Planning by spot rezoning and density bonusing instead of a city-wide plan has driven speculation and skyrocketing increases in land prices. Why is Vision so opposed to a city-wide plan? Working collaboratively with communities and neighbours to create a city-wide plan is the only process by which residents can come together on decisions that affect growth, housing and affordability city-wide and in their own neighbourhood. 

5. Create a Renter’s Office at the City, to better protect and resource the over half Vancouverites who rent their homes.

Immediately create a department that can provide resources and support for the renters of Vancouver: to provide help with provincial tenancy laws, to ensure homes are safe and landlords adhere to our Standards of Maintenance bylaw, to stop bogus renovictions and to ensure renter’s rights are protected in an increasingly tight and exploitive market.
Postscript: 

I'm running to be the Green Party’s second City Councillor. I need your vote, to elect me to join Green Party City Councillor Adriane Carr in this October 14th by-election. Another Green would significantly broaden the ability to introduce and debate new policies, whereas today Carr must rely on conditional support of other parties’ councillors to second her motions, which often involves watering down the motion.