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Affordability policy causes hardship for Vancouver tenant 0

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Concept art of 54 seniors' housing units that are expected to be built on East Fourth Avenue after being approved for rezoning under Vancouver's "Interim Rezoning Policy."
(City of Vancouver photo)

Concept art of 54 seniors' housing units that are expected to be built on East Fourth Avenue after being approved for rezoning under Vancouver's "Interim Rezoning Policy." (City of Vancouver photo)

A tenant of a recently rezoned building under Vancouver's "Interim Rezoning Policy" says the affordability-driven policy has actually made living in the city more financially difficult for his household.

Matthew Malka moved into 3120 Knight St. just over a year ago, paying $1,200 each month for a three-bedroom suite he shares with his girlfriend.

After rezoning was approved by Vancouver city council last month, however, Malka expects to pay $1,700 for a two-bedroom suite when the new building is constructed.

"At the end of the day, the only people that were interested in the development going forward were the developers, and yet, council thought what the hell, let's do it."

He said there were up to 20 people who spoke at a May public hearing prior to the rezoning decision and only three were in support.

The policy, approved in late 2012 in the name of affordable housing, allows rezoning up to three-and-a-half storeys for homes within approximately 100 metres of an arterial road. It also allows development up to six storeys on properties fronted by an arterial, and that are within walking distance of neighbourhood centres.

The city says about 800 new units could be created by 15 projects. Malka's property will expand from nine units to 51 units.

So far three properties — including Malka's home — have been rezoned under the system.

One is a co-housing project on East 33rd Avenue. Coun. Geoff Meggs said Vancouver sees this option — even though it would be units sold at full-market rate and only have two rental units — as affordable housing. It's also so the city can explore co-housing, a model which cuts costs by using shared-living spaces.

The last development is a seniors residential building on East 4th Avenue. That building would displace seven tenants to build 54 senior housing units.

The new units would be in the lease-hold format, where leasees could sign up for 29-year deals at 85% of the market value of a neighbourhood condo. According to the city, any profit goes back into subsidizing prices. 

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