The City of North Vancouver has been pursuing a social housing initiative which appears to have little if any long-term focus, and no established plans or goals. To this end the City has been taking units for trade as amenity fund contributions for social and special needs housing, primarily for people with handicap needs.
As has been frequently referenced by Councillor Keating in his many and lengthy dissertations on federal and provincial responsibilities, social housing and the cost of those programs are the budget responsibility of the provincial government and /or the federal government.
Recently, Councillor Heywood has been drawing much attention to the fact that City spending on Social Services, Housing and Development equaled $2,220,000 in 2012 or $46.06 per capita. While our neighbors in the District spent nearly the same amount at $2,102,000, their expenditure was spread over a much larger District population resulting in a per capita burden of only $24.90, or just 54% of the City’s per capita burden. See council video ( http://www.cnv.org/attach/2014%2001%2020%20item%2013Memo-RGH.pdf ) January 14th 2014 memo of CNV councillor Guy Heywood.
The social programming initiatives currently being pursued by the City are set to increase dramatically, and the burden of this ever-increasing expenditure is simply unsustainable and is now consistently equal to 5.5% of the City’s gross annual expense budget. (where $400,000 equals 1%).
If the City is going to try and continue to fulfill a provincial government mandate in respect of providing social housing, then it would be my suggestion that we need to consider a hybrid program which would encompass attempts to achieve social housing and affordable housing as a combined strategy. In this regard I believe that the City should explore the potential for a Housing Authority along the same lines as the Whistler Housing Authority (“WHA”), see ( http://www.whistlerhousing.ca/ ). While certain aspects of the WHA may not be relevant to the City’s needs or objectives, the fundamental objective of affordability is well served by the WHA structure.
IT IS MY POSITION THAT the City should explore the possibility of a North Vancouver City Housing Authority (“NVCHA”) similar in nature to the home ownership program for residents operated by the WHA; and
- I will support a study to examine the potential for creating a NVCHA designed to achieve affordable and social housing ownership for qualifying individuals; and
- I do not envision the NVCHA would venture into the home or condo rental markets, as I believe both are well served at this time by existing private sector suppliers; and
- I believe the value of an NVCHA is in the area of affordable housing for people who are prepared to invest in a low cost low/no return housing model which will give them a quality home in a good and vibrant community, but does not seek to provide them with an upside investment opportunity from long term market value changes driven by increasing property values. The accumulation of equity growth as a component of ownership would form the financial basis for transition from the typical renter status to an NVCHA home ownership status; and
- I would propose to use a NVCHA vehicle to resolve the long-term social housing needs and objectives of the City, and to decouple the City’s operating budgets from funding those needs as they are determined, defined and accepted; and
- I would support the pursuit of federal and provincial grant monies into the NVCHA to help create, fund and grow the NVCHA initiative.
When I find myself in a position to effect these changes, the policies and principals setout above will guide my decisions.