Mayor Sam Sullivan has commended yesterdayâ€™s decision of City Council to proceed with immediate actions to encourage new social housing development, increase the number of emergency shelter beds for the homeless in Vancouver, and invest in the creation of 44 new social housing units in the former Pennsylvania Hotel in the Downtown Eastside.
The Mayor shared information about the new actions with a group of 20 community organizations and service providers who took part in a roundtable meeting on homelessness in the Mayorâ€™s Office this morning. The group discussed ways in which the City, Regional, Provincial and Federal governments can work collaboratively with community groups and agencies in the inner city to provide emergency shelter and services.
Yesterday, Council voted to direct City staff to â€˜fast-trackâ€™ the pre-development of three downtown sites currently slated for social housing, and to study ways to introduce more flexibility in the size of new social housing units being developed as a means of creating more units for every social housing dollar invested.
â€œWith this decision, we are now able to expedite future social housing development, take immediate action to provide shelter to more of our homeless population, and undertake a renewed discussion with the provincial government to obtain emergency funding,â€ the Mayor said.
Based on a motion by Councillor Kim Capri, Council authorized City staff to:
The Mayor has noted that, while the responsibility for development of social housing is within the mandate of the provincial and federal governments, the City of Vancouver is a leader amongst Canadian municipalities in investing in housing.
The City owns or has options on 19 vacant sites that it has earmarked for development into social housing, and awaiting funding from senior levels of government. The City has worked to secure 500 new units of low-income housing with many becoming available over the next few years. Of the over 19,000 existing social housing units in Vancouver, 36% are located on city owned land.
Currently, it costs approximately $200,000 to construct the average social housing unit for a single occupant. Councilâ€™s decision provides City staff with greater flexibility to maximize every dollar committed to social housing in Vancouver, in order to achieve the development of additional units in a range of sizes.
â€œYesterdayâ€™s decision represents a bold step forward in the City of Vancouverâ€™s ongoing efforts to address the homelessness crisis in our City,â€ said Mayor Sullivan. â€œI look forward to continuing to work with the provincial and federal governments, as well as service providers in the community, to find long-term solutions to this problem.â€