Rental housing in Vancouver’s River District is getting a $208-million boost from the federal government.
Exactly 422 new purpose-built rental units will be built across three different projects, according to an announcement made by Harjit Sajjan, Minister of Emergency Preparedness and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, on Aug. 3.
The projects will be made possible through $208-million in fully repayable low-interest loans through the Rental Housing Finance Initiative (RCFi), a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) rental financing program.
“Rental homes are a fundamental part of our healthy and inclusive communities. They provide stable homes for millions of Canadians and allow them to build a life for themselves and their families,” said Sajjan, who made the announcement on behalf of federal housing minister Sean Fraser.
“Here in the River District, we have seen how the shortage in rental housing has impacted seniors, students, people living with disabilities, newcomers and many other groups are without a secure home over their heads.”
Building rental supply has been a focus for the City of Vancouver as well as the B.C. government thanks to low vacancy rates and rising rents. The most recent CMHC data indicated that Vancouver’s rental vacancy is 0.9 per cent. This accompanies an average rent of $2,945 for a one-bedroom unit, according to rentals.ca.
City councillor Pete Fry said that the three projects are in “direct alignment with the bigger plan, which sets out a comprehensive vision for the city's future.”
“The substantial investment in purpose-built rental housing is really actually providing quite a relief to housing pressures that are faced by so many of our residents,” Fry said, highlighting that there will also be retail aspects to the new developments.
The federal housing announcement comes days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that housing “isn't a primary federal responsibility.”
Sajjan, who is also a member of Parliament for Vancouver South, said that housing is a shared responsibility for every level of government.
“Our government has put increasing supply in our country as one of our top priorities. And this is just one of the programs that not only we have announced, but actually executed quite well,” he said.
The project at 3435 West Sawmill Cres. will receive $79.35 million in RCFi finding for 178 units, $3.60 million from the City of Vancouver and $15.39 million in cash and land equity from Wesgroup Properties Ltd.
The second project at 3572 Glen Dr. will receive $65.68 million in RCFi funding for 139 units, and $17.31 million in cash and land equity from Peterson Kingsway Ltd.
Lastly, the 695 East 19 Ave. project will receive $63.50 million in RCFi funding for 104 units, and $9.70 million from Stonemark Investments Ltd. and Comma Properties LP (a partnership between Rize Alliance Properties and Pioneer Investments).
Sajjan will be in West Vancouver tomorrow morning for another housing announcement with the Squamish Nation.