Thursday, 28 June 2012

GROUNDHOG DAY: The Affordable Housing Report

When City council released its affordable housing report it seemed like Groundhog Day.

It never stops.

In the early 70s the City produced a report on "housing the hard to house." Then in the mid 70s a fellow named Soules went to the trouble of interviewing every politician and developer in the Vancouver region about it and published a hard cover book called the "Housing Crises."

Oh what to do! What to do?

Then Gordon Campbell got elected. These were the halcyon days when developers were  kicking 80 year old grannies out of their Kerrisdale apartments as they were condominiumized. The construction of rental housing was dead in the water. Who (other than Morris Wosk) wanted to bother with complaining tenants whining to the Rentalsman?

So Mayor Campbell set up a meeting of concerned Developers. There was no end of ideas but the one that won the prize was this: Create a new company. Hand over to it 50 Million dollars of land on long term leases. Make the City's rent way down the totem poll so it starts collecting only after everyone gets paid.

The city contributed the land at an option price of ten dollars and away they went. The beauty part was that much of it would be funded by union pension funds.

Harry Rankin,Vancouver's socialist councillor,was against it. He described it as "state capitalism." He said that the state should only be involved with things that the market could not do. The market he said could build market housing.

That vote took a  lot of courage because the union pension funds supported the project. Can you imagine this VISION gang or for that matter the NPA not supporting a developer?

The Company was supposed to build thousands of units. Actually with City encouragement it became a large union developer but not for city rental units. It built on some of the best land in the city package and then moved on to better things. It put up a small fraction of the expected rental units and never exercised the options on the rest. I don't know when the city started collecting rent.

For some reason politicians keep trying things that didn't work the first time. Someone does OK I guess,.

1 comment:

  1. Glissando Remmy29 June 2012 at 22:27

    Thought of The Night

    “Why do people call Vancouver “The New Terminal City”? Because what this city has got in the past four years is… “Terminal”! Medical term for that: “Visionitis”"

    Really enjoyed your Groundhog day reminder, Jonathan! I agree 100%.

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.