For hundreds of Vancouver families, an affordable rental suite in the city will be within reach in just two years’ time. The Vancouver Community Land Trust Foundation, a public-social sector partnership, is building 358 rental units across the city that will rent for an average of 25 per cent below market value when completed by 2018.
New townhomes and one to three-bedroom apartments will be constructed at sites on Kingsway, Southeast Marine Drive and East Kent Avenue South. Groundbreaking is expected in September.
“Rents will be set at an average of 75 per cent of their market value across the portfolio, and they’ll never exceed 90 per cent in the most desirable waterfront homes,” said Thom Armstrong, executive director of the Co-op Housing Federation of British Columbia (CHF-BC), the lead organization in the Land Trust.
A significant number of homes will be available to tenants who are in the lowest-income bracket, a fifth of Vancouver households, Armstrong added.
The affordable rents are being made possible because the City of Vancouver has made the land available for development at deeply discounted rates — a contribution equivalent to 23 per cent of the project’s value.
This is the first time the City of Vancouver has offered city-owned land with long-term leases to community operators instead of BC Housing to implement affordable housing, according to UBC researcher Kristin Patten. Patten studied the Land Trust as part of her master’s in planning at UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning.
“This community land trust model maximizes affordability by pairing city assets with housing providers that know the market and also contribute equity, and with socially conscious private equity firms,” Patten said. “It’s also self-sustaining, as the higher-income units will subsidize the less profitable units, avoiding the need for ongoing government subsidies.”
Project participants include BC Housing and private equity firm New Market Funds, along with Tikva Housing Society, Sanford Housing Society and Fraserview Co-op, the community housing providers that will build and manage the units. Vancity contributed more than $1 million in pre-development funding.
The project is projected to achieve financial sustainability within the first year of full occupancy.
“Over time, the Land Trust is expected to show an operating surplus, which can then be used to build more non-market rental housing or to make existing units more affordable,” said Patten. “It’s a model that could inspire similar affordability initiatives in Vancouver and other cities.”
View case study “Vancouver Community Land Trust Foundation: Examining a model for long-term housing affordability.”