“Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has drawn deeply on all sectors of the housing industry to represent his new “housing affordability task force” in the hope of finding realistic solutions to the city’s housing problems.
From developers and builders to academics, housing finance groups and operators of not-for-profit housing, the 14 members will assist the mayor and co-chair Olga Ilich to try to find new ways to soften the effects of the city’s systemic housing affordability crisis.
They will prepare an interim report by March 12, which will then be opened for public consultation. A final report is due June 30.
Robertson said Vancouver faced extraordinary challenges in creating affordable housing and he wanted the task force to look at ways to both protect existing housing and to create more. The city has a 10-year housing and homeless strategy of creating 38,000 new affordable homes, including 5,000 new purpose-built rentals and 20,000 new housing units.
Over the years, successive councils have grappled with the seemingly intractable problem of stimulating affordable housing without destabilizing the existing stock.”
“The 14 members will help mayor and co-chair find new ways to soften the effects of the city’s affordability crisis.”
In addition to Ilich and Robertson, the task force includes:
Alan Boniface — Principal, DIALOG & Urban Land Institute B.C. Chairman
Nathan Edelson — Senior Partner, 42 Street Consulting
Leonard George — Director, Economic Development, Tsleil-Waututh Nation
Marg Gordon — CEO, B.C. Apartment Owners & Managers Association
Mark Guslits — architect, principal, Mark Guslits & Associates Inc.
Colleen Hardwick — founder and CEO, New City Ventures
Howard Johnson — CEO, Baptist Housing
Kenneth Kwan — Chairman, Building Committee, SUCCESS
Michael Lewis — Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Community Renewal
Eric Martin — VP, Bosa Development Corp.
Karen O’Shannacery — Executive Director, Lookout Society
Al Poettcker — President & CEO, UBC Properties Trust
Peter Simpson — President & CEO, Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association
Bradford Tone — President, Tone Management
“The members of the Housing Affordability Task Force bring a broad and diverse array of experience, leadership, and vision to our work on the pressing challenge of affordability,” Robertson said in an emailed statement.
“Vancouver must be a city where our children can afford to live and raise their families. This is not a simple challenge but it is one that we have to address — and I believe this task force has the ideas and expertise to provide new affordability solutions for Vancouver.”
- from ‘Vancouver appoints ‘housing affordability task force’, Vancouver Sun, 6 Feb 2012
“Foxes To Design New Henhouse?” – Actually, such criticism would be too easy, too glib, and, we would hope, incorrect. Not everybody on the task force is a developer. Still, interesting that people trying to solve the problem should come from “all sectors of the housing industry“. Isn’t there a possibility that some important solutions may involve steps that are not in the best interests of “the housing industry”, and that those would be avoided by this task force?
Having said that, we’re sure that there are members of this task force who are well-meaning, and have a genuine desire to attempt to ‘solve’ the housing ‘problem’ that faces Vancouver. We’ll be genuinely interested to see what they come up with.
Forgive us our jadedness, but we’d expect their ‘final report’ to include:
1. Opening and final statements regarding the importance of ‘affordable housing’ to Vancouver, our futures, our communities, our children, etc.
2. Suggestions for projects that involve small and/or low quality units at lower prices, but essentially still at ‘market prices’ for what they are. As per the ‘two parking spot’ bachelor suites released last year.
3. Projects that benefit “the housing industry” at the expense of tax-payers.
4. Absolutely no mention of the real cause of the housing crisis in Vancouver, namely the massive speculative mania driven by overextended locals high on cheap debt.
5. No plans that would risk ‘destabilizing’ current housing prices.
Regular readers know that we believe that Vancouver is in the grips of a very large bubble in housing, and that prices are at levels 2 to 3 times those supported by fundamental values. The speculative mania so distorts the market that any current talk of trying to make changes to improve ‘housing affordability’ is rendered trivial and cosmetic. Once the bubble bursts and prices drop 50%-66%, the whole ‘affordability’ picture will look very different. Thereafter there will still be a need for sensible housing policy for the city and the region, and perhaps a task force will be helpful at that point. Until then attempts to address ‘affordability’ are rearranging the proverbial deck chairs on the proverbial Titanic.