The issue on housing matters in the Greater Vancouver is really spiraling out of hands. Last Saturday, a nationwide forum was held in order to allow residents of all backgrounds voice their concerns, share ideas and give suggestions.
This event was hosted by the City of Vancouver and intends to use the suggestions into consideration and act on them. This will aid in shaping future strategies as it addresses a booming real estate market and a growing gap between housing prices and incomes.
Mayor Gregor Robertson noted that the number goal is to build more housing, create more opportunities for those less fortunate, and develop more equality among residents.
“Today is really about capturing the best ideas and feedback and criticism – we’ll take the good with the bad, we just need to be sure we’re doing everything we can to create more housing, Robertson told reporters.
In his opening remarks, Robertson stated that the City needs more assistance from the provincial and federal governments, more specifically on financial issues. He mentioned 20 cities of land that currently needs federal funding and called on federal governments to help get potential projects off the ground.
“The city has traditionally held these [sites] as a rainy day fund, and this is as rainy a day – in terms of housing supply – as I can imagine, “ said Robertson. “We need to be much affordable [housing] as we can, and that means provincial and federal governments putting money on the table.”
The forum comprises of people from different backgrounds, from house owners, house renters, the rich and those with low incomes, to the even those staying with their parents.
Lenee Son, coordinator for the Carnegie Community Action Project, says that although these movement is beneficial, the City always forget a key group in their discussions: 2,100- strong homeless population currently in the Downtown Eastside and Chinatown.
“People are given $375 for rent [through welfare assistance], when rent in the Downtown Eastside and Chinatown area is about $600 to $700,” said Son, “Even if people are able to pay their rent, they have about two dollars a day to spend on transportation and food. It’s just not okay for people to be living like this.”
In his opening remarks, Robertson highlighted several steps the City has taken to address the housing crisis.
“There’s a number of steps that we have taken, but it’s not enough, he said. “We need to do far more. We need to see across the city a lot more density in all neighborhoods, a lot of different housing types, a focus on affordability and rental housing. And we have to keep the pressure on the provincial and federal government, who are making more positive sounds that ever before, but the delivery of the dollars to deepen the affordability hasn’t come yet.”