1. Housing

 

Housing State of Emergency

1.1 On its first day in office, COPE will declare a “state of emergency” to solve the affordable housing crisis. COPE will maximize existing powers and proactively pursue new powers, resources, and alliances.

 

Ban Corporate Donations

1.2 COPE will work to end the influence of corporations at City Hall and work to ban corporate donations in both election and non-election years, and limit 3rd party campaign spending.

 

Build City-Owned Housing

1.3 COPE will dramatically expand the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA) in order to:

1.3.1 Work to end homelessness by building modular housing for every homeless person with Mansion tax revenues. 

1.3.2 Build at least 4,500 units of low-rent (subsidized and contingent on income), high-quality public and cooperative housing for each of the next 4 years to meet the need of 18,000 Vancouver households currently spending over 50% of their income on rent;

1.3.3 The Housing Authority will promote renovation or replacement of all 3,500 Single Room Occupancy Hotel rooms with self-contained homes, including a kitchen and a bathroom, over the next 4 years. SROs should be declared a public utility, followed by compulsory public purchase;

1.3.4 Enable densification by selectively and rapidly up-zoning VAHA-controlled lots across all neighbourhoods in the city; and

1.3.6 Follow the ten recommendations made in COPE’s Housing Committee’s report, Ending the Housing Crisis: International best-practices for creating a Vancouver Housing Authority (Appendix A).

 

Fund City-Owned Housing

1.4 This new expanded role for VAHA will be enabled by the following funding sources:

1.4.1 COPE will seek an amendment to the Vancouver Charter to implement a progressive “Mansion Tax”, with increments and rates to be set by City Council, on only the additional value of homes worth more than $5 million. A surtax of 1% on the value over $5M, and 2% on the value over $10, would generate over $200M annually. All revenues will be directed toward ending homelessness, building social and co-op housing, and working with Indigenous host nations to support their Rights and Title and to end their housing crisis through the creation of land trusts and other policy tools;

1.4.2 COPE will transfer $1 Billion, or 20%, of the Vancouver Property Endowment Fund’s assets—including land—to the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency to serve as seed capital and collateral for loans for Housing Agency projects;

1.4.3 COPE will respond to the strong private market by directing Community Amenity Contributions (CAC) and Development Cost Levies (DCL) toward social and affordable housing, increase DCLs and CACs rates, and eliminate loopholes that help developers avoid paying them;

1.4.4 COPE will use increased lobbying power and revenue to leverage additional matching funds from higher levels of government;

1.4.5 COPE will seek ongoing capital investment through partnership(s) with the British Columbia Municipal and other Pension Plans, including using the City’s Pension Plan capital reserves, and borrow through the BC Municipal Financial Authority, BC Housing, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and any other credit union or financial institution;

1.4.6 COPE will advocate that all funds collected from within the City of Vancouver by the provincial government under the ‘Foreign Buyer Tax’, the Speculation Tax, Provincial Property Surtax and Property Transfer Tax, be returned to the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA);

1.4.7 VAHA will use its new developer powers to generate surplus revenues and to achieve significant non-market housing in Vancouver and reduce developer control.

 

Rent Freeze, Rent Control, and Tenant Protections

1.5 COPE will increase the rights and security of renters by:

1.5.1 Lobbying the provincial government to immediately set a 0% rent increase in the City of Vancouver over the next four years (a “Rent Freeze”), and to reassess the rental situation at that time;

1.5.2 Working with other municipalities to advocate that the provincial government tie rent increases to the rental unit, not to the tenancy;

1.5.3 Applying strict rent controls to all new multi-unit housing developments, using the City’s zoning and housing agreement powers;

1.5.4 Eliminating the incentive for landlords to evict tenants by requiring, as a condition of issuing building permits, that landlords maintain rents at existing levels after work is completed by:

1.5.4.1 Ensuring that, as a condition of issuing a building permit or development permit involving rental units, landlords prove they have found suitable interim accommodation at the same rent for all tenants who will be displaced due to renovations; and, that there is a signed contract that gives tenants the right to move back into their unit, or a new replacement unit of comparable size, at the same rents they were previously paying, once renovations are complete.

1.5.5 Developing a system of rent control and lobby the Provincial Government to implement a Municipal Rent Control program to bring rents down across the city;

1.5.6 Establishing an elected Rent Control Board, with tenant representation and independence from the real estate industry that will:

Work toward a “rent rollback” to 2017 levels (cancelling any rent increase notices in the last year) and a four-year rent freeze;

Issue mill rate rebates for landlords that abide by “rent rollback and freeze” policy, and renewable energy retrofits. 

1.5.7 Creating a Landowner and Landlord Registry Database that will:

Register and License Landowners and Landlords;

List all rental units, rents, and rent increases;

Track all health, safety, maintenance, and tenancy disputes;

Be funded, in full or part, by Registration and Licensing fees;

Create incentives for property owners to register and rent-out suites and rooms legally; and

Monitor and apply penalties for vacant or underutilized properties.

1.5.8 Enacting a moratorium on the loss of existing low-income housing units across the city by strengthening and expanding the City’s Rate of Change / Tenant Relocation and Protection bylaws;

1.5.9 Approving at least twice as much floor area of new affordable rental housing construction in its first term of office as was approved by City Council between 2008 and 2018;

1.5.10 Increasing rental-housing construction enough to ensure that the residential rental vacancy rate is at least 2% by 2022, and the median real rent paid by tenant households is lower in 2022 than in 2018;

1.5.10.1 Increase the Empty Homes Tax rate (like Paris did when they found people were still leaving units empty) because primary aim should be to bring more rentals online, not revenue generation.

1.5.11 Supporting and funding citywide Tenants’ Unions;

1.5.12 Publicly funding a universal Right to Counsel for tenants experiencing eviction;

1.5.13 Creating a Rental Housing Ombudsperson;

1.5.14 Building a public campaign to pressure the province to change the Residential Tenancy Act to meet the requests of Pets OK BC.

 

Enforce Standards of Maintenance

1.6 COPE will enforce and strengthen municipal housing maintenance standards by implementing or strengthening the following, but not limited to, policies:

1.6.1 Enforce the section of the Standards of Maintenance bylaw that allows the city to do necessary work and bill the owner.; and

1.6.2 Implementing proactive maintenance inspections and use all enforcement methods up to and including seizing properties that don't pay their fines or do legally required maintenance. 

 

Stop Conversion of SRO Housing

1.7 COPE will seek to define Single Room Occupancy Hotel conversion to include those units where rents are raised above welfare- and pension-level shelter rates, and will increase SRO-conversion fees to those recommended by the Carnegie Community Action Project, and apply them to vacant SRO units.

 

Moratorium on Condos in the DTES

1.8 COPE will implement an immediate moratorium on condo development in the Downtown Eastside and Chinatown to stop gentrification and displacement.

 

Redefine Social Housing

1.9 COPE will redefine “social housing” to mean housing that will be affordable to people on low wage-incomes, welfare, disability and old age pension incomes.

 

Increase Income Assistance Shelter Rate

1.10 COPE will work with the provincial government to tie the welfare disability shelter rates to actual housing costs in Vancouver and other municipalities.

 

Housing for Youth in Care

1.11 COPE will work with the Province to conduct a robust review of the current state of housing (infrastructure, governance and quality of care) being used to support Permanent Wards (“Youth in Care”) within the city’s boundaries.

 

Increase Supply of Non-Market Housing

1.12 COPE will use the supply of affordable, public, non-market housing to counter displacement and support the growth of vibrant neighbourhoods.

 

Squatters Rights

1.13 COPE will make the enforcement of provincial and federal squatting laws the lowest policing priority, and ensure that all municipal discriminatory squatting bylaws, including the existing Political Structures By-law, be abandoned. COPE will establish health and safety supports to squatters in abandoned government-owned buildings and properties, and tent-cities until proper housing is available for all.

 

Build Co-operative Housing

1.14 COPE will instruct the City’s various planning units to submit recommendations to City Council on ways to increase the use of co-ops as a means of community building and providing affordable housing.

 

City Wide Plan

1.15 COPE Councillors will demand that development be driven by community needs and not the profits of developers. Development should enhance and maintain the livability of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods. All neighbourhoods should share in the provision of affordable housing, adequate amenities, and access to public services. To this end, COPE will promote the following as policy:

1.15.1 City development shall be community-oriented development that ensures livability and inclusion and that respects city needs and the wishes and character of every neighbourhood;

1.15.2 Neighbourhood control is fundamental to achieving community-oriented development: After a transparent and democratic debate in the city and at a neighbourhood level, residents shall vote to choose a City Wide Plan. And, once the City Wide Plan has been chosen, the residents of each neighbourhood shall vote to choose the specifics of the implementation of the City Wide Plan in their area;

1.15.2.1 The City-Wide Plan, binding on every neighbourhood, shall establish for each neighbourhood a minimum quota for:

Rental and subsidized or below-market housing units (at a cost of less than 1/3 of net income);

Parkland, recreation and community centres, childcare facilities, schools, seniors centres, and libraries;

Public services such as health care and social support;

Locally-owned shops.

* Neighbourhoods that have a lower portion of the city-wide non-market housing stock will have to make greater changes to achieve this city-wide minimum.

1.15.2.2 The specifics of the implementation of the City Wide Plan in every neighbourhood shall include:

Type, purpose, and number of buildings;

Location of each building;

Number of repurposed buildings;

Number of new parks and other green areas;

New amenities, like community centres and libraries.

1.15.3 Neighbourhood co-design committees – operating from the grassroots up - are fundamental to the democratic and transparent nature of resident involvement.

1.15.3.1 A co-design committee shall be formed in each neighbourhood and be composed of neighbourhood residents and representatives of social and community services to engage in a process of co-design from the grassroots up. A co-design committee shall aim to include, but not be limited to:

Renters, social and co-op housing tenants, homeless people;

Single-family-home owners;

Local business owners;

Students, young people, and seniors;

People on government-assisted income (e.g. welfare, disability);

Racialized people and the LGBTQ+ community;

Urban Indigenous people and organizations;

Local artists, nonprofit groups.

1.15.3.2 Each neighbourhood co-design committee shall produce:

(a) proposals for a City Wide Plan – making sure to provide for social housing and social amenities in every neighbourhood, and, 

(b) after a City Wide Plan has been chosen, proposals for the implementation of the City Wide Plan in its neighbourhood – making sure to comply with the prescribed amount of social housing and social amenities in that neighbourhood. No neighbourhood proposal shall be exempt from these.

1.15.3.3 The Co-Design process shall include:

Well-advertised regular meetings;

The obtention of oral and documented input from residents and stakeholders;

Forums where larger audiences can discuss proposals and provide feedback to the Co-Design Committee;

Publicizing the proposals of the Co-Design Committee and holding panel discussions to give all neighbourhood residents an opportunity to express their opinions and preferences;

Arriving at the proposals to be put to a vote in the neighbourhood. The committee arrives at these proposals, if not by consensus, by majority vote;

Neighbourhood residents vote on the co-design committee’s proposals, ranking them in order of preference, with the option to refer the proposals back to the Co-Design Committee to be reworked if none are deemed suitable. On the final vote, the best liked proposal becomes the Co-Design Committee’s final proposal;

In the case of the City Wide Plan, the co-design committee takes its final proposal to a meeting with the other neighbourhood co-design committees, in order to come up with a single co-design committee proposal for the City Wide Plan. The City shall either accept that Plan or put its proposal and the joint proposal of the neighbourhood co-design committees to a vote by city residents;

In the case of the implementation of the City Wide Plan in the neighbourhood, the co-design committee’s final proposal becomes the plan that the City shall follow in the implementation of the City Plan in the neighbourhood. If, however, the City disagrees, the City’s proposal and the joint co-design committees’ proposal shall be put to a vote by neighbourhood residents.

1.15.3.4 The neighbourhood co-design committee shall count with full support from the city to carry its day-to-day operations and to publicize its findings and events. The co-design committee shall be able to summon city planners and any other City employees to provide information and/or support.

1.15.3.5 The City will include the co-design’s committee proposals and recommendations in any and all of its publications leading up to a vote by city or neighbourhood residents.

1.15.4 The City shall not conduct mass rezoning of any kind ever.

1.15.5 The City shall not approve any rezoning or densification outside the approved City Wide Plan and its neighbourhood-determined implementation. However, were the City to contend that there are extraordinary reasons to rezone or densify, the City shall for each separate case:

(a) augment the current open houses run by City planners with well publicized panel discussions at the neighbourhood level, with speakers in favour and against City proposals and where residents and other stakeholders are able to express their opinions; and

(b) conduct a vote at the neighbourhood level so that neighbourhood residents approve them or reject the City’s proposals.

 

Equitable Leasing of City-Owned Land

1.16 Co-ops and social housing on city owned land: Ensure that land lease rates for co-op and social housing on city land are low enough to enable present and future low income people to live in the housing.

 

Provide Affordable Housing

1.17 COPE will provide affordable housing:

If land is or has been upzoned, then in the process of the land being upzoned, by ensuring that significant public benefits will flow equitably back to the community to provide affordable housing owned by the City of Vancouver and adequate public amenities to service the new population, while respecting community supported plans and planning process;

By developing housing that is owned, maintained and managed by the Vancouver Housing Authority in co-creation with residents and residents’ groups who will occupy the residences; and

Provide incentives for retaining existing dwelling and disincentives to demolishing existing dwellings and building new more expensive dwellings, except for properties covered by clause 2.b above.

 

Chinatown Housing

1.18 COPE Members endorse the People's Vision for Chinatown.

 

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