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Letter: Richmond rental housing program doing well compared to other cities

A Richmond News reader says Richmond's LEMR program is one of the most aggressive programs in the Lower Mainland.
Richmond condos

Dear Editor,

Re: “City Council blind to Richmond residents’ housing needs,” Letters, first posted online.

I feel it is necessary to correct the outrageous errors in Ms. Colpits letter. First, Richmond is far from the last in the provision of rental housing. The CMHC study she refers to looks at a very narrow window to rank municipalities on the number of units they constructed during that specific time. If one takes a wider view, Richmond fares very well in comparison to our neighbours.

The City of Richmond’s Low End of Market Rental (LEMR) program has been increased from five per cent of units to 10 per cent and even more, to 15 per cent in the City Centre. This is by far the most aggressive program in the Lower Mainland to create affordable rental. She states they are not available to the general public. Of course, the owners of the units will seek renters in a variety of ways, including Craig’s List and Marketplace. Some are owned by not-for-profits and they seek renters from the groups they serve. But to say they are not available to the general public is simply false.

The city reports the number of units secured to reflect those already built and those being built as part of current development. Sure, they could break that down by those that are already constructed versus those still being built, but that is not the point. How many units has the city secured through registered affordable housing agreements is what matters. Over the years this program has been operating, it has provided many LEMR units, housing that would not have been built otherwise. This is a huge win for our city and it is irresponsible to suggest otherwise.

She goes on to say that green spaces and farmland are disappearing. Where is this happening? The city is adding parks, increasing green space both publicly and as part of new development. And Richmond’s policy on new homes on farmland exceeds the provincial requirements.

She claims amazement that council seems complacent to the needs of our community. What I’m amazed at is how some councillors think that by voting against new housing they are somehow helping. We need real solutions, bold initiatives and fresh thinking to combat the housing crisis. Not misplaced complaints and false accusations.

Dana Westermark