Mayor Kennedy Stewart announced Monday a new housing program that proposes allowing property owners to build up to six small homes on a standard-sized single-family lot.
The catch is two additional homes — whether they all be built in one big new building or spread across the property — have to be sold to a person or persons with a household income of $80,000 to $120,000 per year.
Under the proposal, owners could convert or redevelop a single-detached house into multiple homes, keep one for themselves or other family members, and sell the remaining homes to middle-income earners.
“Imagine homes where seniors can age in place right next door to their children and grandchildren, close enough to ask for or lend a hand, but with a private home of their own,” Stewart told reporters. “Imagine homes that groups of young professionals can develop together — homes they work out of and build a community around.”
Various scenarios could unfold under the program, with up to six homes built or fewer, but the focus is to ensure one home be affordable to a middle-income household and a covenant applied to make that affordability permanent.
The proposal is called “Making HOME —Housing Options for Middle-Income Earners” and will be introduced in the form of an amendment to a motion from Coun. Lisa Dominato at Wednesday’s council meeting.
If approved by council, staff will explore further details on the proposal, with the mayor wanting to launch a pilot project next year of 100 homes. The pilot would exclude homes with renters, so not to displace them, and heritage homes.
The goal is to create more affordable housing for people who can’t afford to purchase a home in Vancouver, said Stewart, noting such a program would build an inventory of homes not subject to ever-rising property values and harmful speculation.
The average price of a detached home on the East Side of the city is $1.4 million. A buyer would have to be in the top 2.5 per cent of earners to afford such a home, according to information supplied by the mayor’s office.
Currently, almost 60 per cent of land in Vancouver is zoned for single-family detached homes, with a total of 68,000 lots across the city, with prices of homes on the West Side considerably higher.
A 2017 study by the city found that 71 per cent of respondents said they moved out of Vancouver because they needed affordable housing. A total of 51 per cent said they couldn’t afford to live in their preferred neighbourhood.