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Plenty of condos going up, but who can afford them?

"Out with the old, in with the new." We've ushered in the Year of the Snake and enjoyed our first Family Day. There's lots of "new" to be seen so far this year, including new housing developments, happening in Richmond.

"Out with the old, in with the new."

We've ushered in the Year of the Snake and enjoyed our first Family Day.

There's lots of "new" to be seen so far this year, including new housing developments, happening in Richmond.

When you look at the number and size of the developments being built, it's easy to forget that we are a city built on a floating carpet of peat and clay in the middle of the Fraser.

Hopefully, if the "big one" hits and the island liquefies, the new high rises won't sink like Popsicle sticks into chocolate pudding.

Putting the doom and gloom aside, the question is: are these developments being built for the average working person?

Let's see, the 2011 Census shows the average household income in Metro Vancouver in 2010 was about $72,000. And lone-parent families' income was about $38,000.

Let's compare the number and affordability of these new residential developments.

Parc Riviera on River Road at No. 4 Road (1,100 units) advertises the lowest condo price as $269,900 (only 15 available and only one bedroom. Not much good for a family.)

River Green on River Road at Dinsmore Bridge (458 units) is a special case, these being luxury condos with purchase prices ranging from $615,000 to more than $1.2 million.

I do hope that much of the revenue is going into soundproofing, as the development is across from YVR and will see jets and floatplanes taking off every two minutes.

off every two minutes. Okay, so what else is out there?

Quintet (306 units) at the new Trinity Western University campus, Saffron (296 units) on Granville at Eckersley, Monet at Cook and Garden City (135 units), The Gardens at Steveston and No. 5 (150 units) and Centro at No. 3 and Granville (166 units) all come in at between $250,000 and $700,000.

Except for the few units available at $250,000 (which are one bedrooms, so not much good for a family), it is difficult to fathom why such expensive housing continues to be built when household income is nowhere near adequate to cover such a cost.

If you consider the yearly income of most families in Metro Vancouver, most of these homes are far out of reach.

When you add up all these new homes, it totals 2,611 housing units. And, of course, that's not all there is out there; I am merely giving an example of the most visible housing developments going up at this time.

Any way you look at it, it still appears we have at least 2,611 units available in Richmond that are out of reach for most Richmondites.

However, there is some good news. City hall has encouraged a few developers to build purpose-built affordable rental housing instead of having them just contribute a mandatory fee to the city's Affordable Housing Fund.

There are four notable developments. Remy at Cambie and No. 4 (188 units) has opened and it includes 33 rental units for seniors and 48 family rental units.

Kiwanis Towers and Polygon at Minoru and Westminster Highway are partnering to develop 296 seniors rental units in addition to 335 market purchase units.

I am informed that Kiwanis and the city worked diligently to relocate all the current 122 residents to alternate housing while their new suites are being built. The best news is that when completed, Kiwanis Towers will accommodate 74 more seniors than before.

Thirdly, a unique partnership of five non-profit societies is developing a city-owned lot on Granville close to Cooney.

It will have 130 units of subsidized supportive housing as well as some low-end market rental (for those with incomes of between $33,500 and $51,000 per year).

Lastly, the Cressey development will be built next to River Green and will contain 244 units, 15 of which will be affordable rental units for families (with incomes of less than $33,500).

When you total these up, it comes to 522 affordable rental units. Compare that to the 2,611units of the most notable housing developments going up right now in Richmond.

The question must be asked - what is the best thing we can do for our city?

At this time, in this economic climate, what do we need more of - affordable rental housing or luxury purchase housing?