City of Vancouver awards $8.7m in grants for social housing

Money comes from the city's empty homes tax

Lu'ma housing society
The Lu'ma Aboriginal Housing Society will receive a $6.255 million grant – the largest of the ones city council is providing | Lu'ma Aboriginal Housing Society

The City of Vancouver has awarded $8.7 million in grants to four social housing projects using money from its Community Housing Initiative Program, which is funded by the city's empty homes tax.

The grants that council approved July 7 will add to investments from multiple partners to build 269 social housing units.  They are the first grants that the city has provided from the program.

Recipients include:
• Finnish Care Home ($890,000);
• Lee’s Senior Housing ($655,000);
• Salvation Army ($910,0000; and
• Aboriginal Land Trust and Lu’ma Aboriginal Housing Society ($6,255,000).

“Providing more affordable homes across Vancouver is council’s top priority and with these grants – the first from the new program funded by the empty homes tax – a proposed housing project is more likely to attract funding from other partners, including more senior levels of government,” said Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart in a release.

The Community Housing Initiative Program has about $25 million and is funded by the empty homes tax as well as from the city's capital budget. 

The empty homes tax is 1.25% in the 2020 tax year, up from 1% in 2019. Council launched the tax in 2016 and set the rate at 1% of a home's assessed value for homes that were not being occupied, or rented, for at least six months per year.