A City of Vancouver incentive to developers is doing little to ease Vancouver’s affordable housing crunch, according to UBC researchers.
Analysis conducted by the Housing Justice Project, led by UBC Planning Professor Penny Gurstein and Law Professor Margot Young, examined Community Amenity Contributions (CACs). CACs are in-kind or cash contributions provided by developers when City Council grants development rights through rezoning.
From 2010 – 2012, 170 non-market units were committed through CACs provided during approvals of additional density rezonings. A further 1,719 secure market rental units were provided through the Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing program (STIR) and Secure Market Housing Policy. In contrast, the household wait list for BC Housing units averaged 3,425 per year over that same period.
“While CACs are one policy tool available to the City of Vancouver to address our affordable housing crisis they clearly cannot fix the problem on their own,” says Young. “We need more innovative and public housing solutions from all levels of government.”
“What this study found is that CACs can provide only a limited portion of what is needed to meet the demand for non-market rental housing in Vancouver,” says Gurstein.
The analysis also found that public information regarding the use of in-cash contributions for affordable housing is unclear. For example, it’s not known how many units of affordable housing will be created with the support of public benefit in-cash contributions, and how funds that were unallocated at the time of rezoning were ultimately distributed. The lack of information makes it impossible to assess the full extent to which CACs are contributing to critically needed non-market housing.
The full policy brief is available here.
- Local governments increasingly rely on private development to provide affordable housing following decades of senior government budget cuts to non-market housing programs.
- Vancouver has developed zoning incentives programs like the Community Amenity Contributions policy through powers granted in the Vancouver Charter, making the City unique in British Columbia.
- The analysis used the 2010, 2011, and 2012 Annual Reports on Public Benefits from Approvals of Additional Density for information about benefits received in each year, both those provided as in-cash payments and those built on-site of new developments.