Vancouver is one of the greatest cities in the world in which to live, but it’s also one of least affordable. Every day, residents struggle with housing. Whether it’s finding an affordable rental or buying a home. This is especially true for middle earners - households with an annual income under $80,000.
With the average price of a detached home in Vancouver being $1.8 million, the options are limited to condos, rentals, or more and more often - leaving town.
Vancouver suffers from a “missing middle” when it comes to housing choices. While our Downtown core is highly-densified, the vast majority of the city’s land base is reserved for legacy housing forms such as single-detached homes or duplexes which are too expensive for all but the wealthiest.
In addition to our housing crisis is the climate crisis. This past summer we felt the very real impact of climate change on our city, and it took a devastating toll on some of our most vulnerable neighbours. We need to accelerate the City’s Climate Emergency Action Plan and invest in critical infrastructure, such as EV chargers to new bus lanes, as well as build more walkable neighbourhoods to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
A Housing Plan for All of Us
Instead of building one big house that only 2.5 percent of Vancouver residents can afford, Making H.O.M.E. will allow small-scale, multi-family housing to be built on a single lot.
A 2,000-lot program would allow up to six units per lot, and generate up to 10,000 new homes across the city for middle-class families to buy, along with hundreds of millions of dollars through land-value capture tools to help fight homelessness, build affordable rental, repair infrastructure, expand childcare, and accelerate the Climate Emergency Action Plan.
Depending on lot size, the program is flexible enough for builders to either develop multiple stratified homes with a CAC, or have reserved units for middle-income earners - forever.
An Economic Recovery Plan for All of Us
Making H.O.M.E. would create thousands of new direct and indirect jobs through the construction of up to 10,000 new middle-class homes across Vancouver.
Moreover, it would leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to build below-market housing, repair ageing infrastructure, expand childcare, and create new community amenities that would generate even more economic activity, as we continue our recovery from COVID-19.
A Climate Plan for All of Us
Making H.O.M.E. would help us fund and accelerate Vancouver’s world-leading Climate Emergency Action Plan in a way that is fair and equitable. From hundreds of EV chargers to new bus lanes, the plan would help fund actions that help us meet our emissions reduction targets.
What’s more, since buildings account for the majority of our carbon emissions, creating more walkable communities where families can use less land helps us reduce our per-capita carbon footprint.
What if we could introduce a new housing option? What if instead of prioritizing single-detached homes, our zoning spurred the construction of more multi-unit homes for the middle-class? Imagine if households that make $80,000 a year could buy in neighbourhoods across the city? What if this kind of development could fund the critical infrastructure we need to address homelessness, build affordable rentals, invest in childcare and tackle climate change?
Making H.O.M.E. (Home Options for Middle-income Earners) is a bold plan to build up-to 10,000 new homes in single-detached neighbourhoods. This program will allow:
Sarah has been a homeowner for more than 35 years. Her kids have grown up, her home is feeling a bit empty and her neighbourhood feels less vibrant these days because no one’s kids can afford to live where they once grew up. She’s looking to downsize.
But Sarah wants to take advantage of Making HOME to change that. She hires a builder to redevelop her one big, empty home into four smaller homes. She keeps one of the units for herself, sells two of the remaining market homes to a couple of young professionals, and sells the guaranteed middle-income home to her daughter who makes $80,000 a year.
Devon, Alex, Juan, and Jennifer are four friends that always thought they would have to eventually leave Vancouver to buy a home and raise families. But now, thanks to Making HOME, they’ve decided to buy a home together and build their own small community.
Together, they all qualify for a joint mortgage so they can buy and redevelop a home together. They hire Frank, an independent home builder and together they build a new home. Instead of a luxury single family home none of them would have ever been able to afford, they've created a multi-family house that's innovative and eco-friendly.
What's more, they all feel great that their new home contributed funds to help the City of Vancouver fight homelessness, build affordable rental, repair infrastructure, expand childcare, and accelerate the Climate Emergency Action Plan.
Add your name if you support making middle-class homeownership a reality again in Vancouver.
With Making Home, we can build a path forward that is more affordable, equitable, vibrant, and sustainable. It’s a blueprint to building a Vancouver that works for all of us.
We need to work on housing as a whole system. That's why Making HOME does so much more than just build homes for purchase. Because it limits speculation while using land value capture to generate hundreds of millions of dollars we can finally raise enough funds to fight homelessness, build affordable rental, repair infrastructure, expand childcare, and accelerate the Climate Emergency Action Plan.
It allows thousands of young, middle-class or new Canadian families to buy their first home, while investing in rental homes for working people and those without a home at all.
City staff will iron out specific details, but Kennedy’s vision is to make between $80,000-$120,000 as a combined household income be the target.
We’re talking about two people making median incomes, like an entry-level tradesperson, or someone who works in a hotel.
That said, if we can get it even closer to the median income of mid-$70,000, that would be ideal. People are leaving Vancouver, so we need to be as aggressive as possible.
Affordability mechanisms can include a covenant on title as outlined under Section 219 of the Land Title Act, which allows a municipality to register a positive or negative covenant against title to property. The covenant “runs with the land” so it can continue in perpetuity.
Other options include a second mortgage on title facilitated by BC Housing through their Housing HUB program, or by a non-profit such as Small Housing BC.
We’ve done projects in the City using these tools, Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (MIRHPP) is an example. Other cities like North Vancouver have as well.
When new homes are built and sold, they can be sold for more money. Today, that "land lift" goes to owners. With Making HOME, we can limit speculation while using land value capture to generate hundreds of millions of dollars to fight homelessness, build affordable rental, repair infrastructure, expand childcare, and accelerate the Climate Emergency Action Plan.
There are various mechanisms, the strata corporation could be in charge of it, or a non-profit like BC Housing or Small Housing BC could be asked to help.
Buyers would be income tested through a review of tax information.
That’s not contemplated now. Kennedy thinks the pilot should be broad, and we can get staff feedback when they come back with their report. But if they think it’s a good idea, he is all for that.
No. Because the home will have a covenant, or another affordability mechanism, when the owners go to sell, their profit will be capped so that the home is affordable to every future buyer - forever.
No. Because most of the land lift goes right back into building permanently affordable units or is captured by the city to help fight homelessness, build affordable rental, repair infrastructure, expand childcare, and accelerate the Climate Emergency Action Plan, there isn’t a profit incentive to build these units.
Instead, the incentive is for groups of people wanting to build together because they can’t afford a standard detached house, or seniors who want to age in place. And at the same time, we can support people who can't afford to buy, or don't have homes at all.
Staff will be asked to consider how the Tenant Relocation and Protection Policy can be applied to tenancies in properties considered for redevelopment under this policy.
This would discourage displacement and when a home was redeveloped, tenants would be compensated and assisted in finding new homes.
And don't forget, this program raises hundreds of millions of dollars to build more rental housing for households making less than $80,000 a year – helping drive down costs for all renters.