MEGA-NEWS: City housing ideas competition now open for public votes



We have to move the real estate discussion beyond shelter and investment,” Vancouver journalist Luke Brocki told the crowd of housing nerds, city staffers and architects at the Roundhouse Community Centre July 5. “I see an obvious problem in commodifying investment into a home.”  


Brocki, alongside journalist Tyee Bridge and poet Evelyn Lau, shared their thoughts on affordable housing at Rethink Reveal, an event hosted by the City of Vancouver to unveil public submissions to its Rethink Housing ideas competition.    


The competition, borne out of the seven-month-old Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing, is designed to generate ideas and solutions from the public on how to solve Vancouver’s affordable housing crisis. 


The 67 submissions are now open for public viewing and voting at Winning submissions will be announced in late July and included in a final task force report to city council this fall. 


The interim report, released June 27, includes recommendations to expedite affordable housing applications, offer cityowned lands for affordable housing and lobby the provincial government to amend the land title act for row housing. 


One can already anticipate the many other requested amendments that local housing advocates will be calling for as the task force gathers steam. After all, Brocki said, what’s really needed is for governments to simply “build a whole bunch of cheap housing all over the city.” But how?


Enter the ideas competition. Wideranging submissions fall into two categories: “building bold” for large sites, and “vibrant hoods” for infill housing. 


Several submissions look to affordable housing solutions in other cities. In their talks, both Brocki and Bridge referred to Options for Homes, a non-profit development consulting firm in Toronto, as a model that Vancouver should adopt to foster affordable home ownership for people who earn $30,000 a year and up. The City’s affordable housing task force, meanwhile, is geared at generating housing solutions for people who earn annual incomes between $21,000 and $86,500.


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