Thoughts on VAHA's new micro-suite development

Thoughts on new micro-suite development on 100 block West Pender by Vancouver's Affordable Housing Agency.

The conditions of this rezoning are consistent with how Vision Vancouver redefined "social housing" in their 2014 DTES Plan. For this proposed social housing project, only 30 of the 90 micro-suites will rent for under $1000/mo.

I was on the citizen committee when we rejected the DTES Plan in 2014, primarily because in it was unlocking massive development potential in the area but wouldn't deliver the necessary housing for the existing low income population (nor does inclusionary zoning elsewhere in the city).

The 90 tiny units in the 10 story building will include 1/3 at shelter rate ($375-$605) one third at "just below market" (<$1650) and 1/3 at HILs (a BC Housing measure based average income and a federal affordability index, in this case about $1000*).

When we (community) were working on the DTES Area Plan, we asked for more transparency about "proformas" —basically, the developer budget, cost to build, and profitability.

At the time, that notion of more transparency around rezonings in the DTES was dismissed because developers didn't want to daylight their business practices and profits.

The Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency is an agent of the city, and accountable to the people of Vancouver. We should expect and demand more transparency of this development: show us the math, who are the developer partners, what are the costs here, what are the profits here?

For what it's worth though, I like the building scale and design. Its smart density, even the micro-suites (tiny as they are) are well designed and windowed. Twenty-five years ago I was living next door to this site and it was vacant then — so this development is LONG overdue, but is it the best we can do?

* reference 2017 BC Housing HILs rates
** reference Market Apartment rental rates 2017; bachelor min. $1650

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