I was delighted to come across the story below in today's Vancouver Sun reporting on Metro Vancouver's decision to make its subsidized family rental units available to families, rather than the older singles and couples who often occupy them. As a member of the Metro Housing Committee, this is something I have been advocating for some time. The fact is, as I have noted elsewhere on this blog, there are hundreds, if not thousands of larger subsidized housing units throughout Metro (including coops and other non-profit rentals) being occupied by singles and couples long after their children have moved out. These households, who may also have much higher incomes, should be asked to make way for more needy households.
While some of the councillors quoted in the story agree, I was surprised by Councillor Geoff Meggs comment that the initiative may be more bother than it is worth. I disagree completely Geoff. It is a lot easier to 'create' a three bedroom townhouse by moving out a couple that does not need it, than by building one from scratch.
Yes, we should continue to press the senior levels of government to provide subsidies to create affordable family units, but why do so when they are not reaching the households for whom they were intended? Here's the story.
As a final comment, in the mid 70's I was the federal government's Special Coordinator overseeing the federal involvement in the City initiated redevelopment of the South Shore of False Creek. Government officials went to extraordinary efforts to ensure a broad social mix in terms of incomes...one third low, one third middle, and one third high...and the mix between households with children and those without. In the subsequent 35 years, the desired ratios have been distorted since household incomes and compositions changed, but the households remained. There are many 'low income' people living in developments on subsidized city land, who own principal residences elsewhere in the city and province.
These include many people in subsidized coops who are benefiting in a similar way. We should be doing something about this situation both to free up the units, and ensure some greater fairness in terms of who benefits from the taxpayers.
I hope this initiative gets a lot of support. It deserves it since it is about time.