Sequel 138 opened at the end of 2015. The two six-storey buildings are comprised of 79 condo units and 18 non-market rental units, half of which will rent for BC Housing Income limits ($912) and the other half at the welfare rental allowance rate ($375). Some condo units have been purchased as investment vehicles and have already been advertised on Craigslist as “$1,500/1br Bedroom Condo.”
Rate of Change 2015
In its 2005 Downtown Eastside Housing Plan the City of Vancouver called for keeping the rate of market housing development to social housing development to 1:1. At the same time, the City’s motto was “revitalization without displacement.” Planners recognized that if the rate of change is too fast, and market housing dominates, low income people can be forced out of their neighbourhood through gentrification.
However, since the adoption of the Local Area Plan in 2014, the City has changed its policy about rate of change. It now allows and encourages market development even when not enough social housing is being built to keep the rate of change 1 to 1. This is especially true in Chinatown, where the new zoning doesn’t require developers to build a single unit of social housing as part of their new developments. As a result of a high rate of change with market housing dominating, land values have been skyrocketing in the neighbourhood, pushing up taxes and rents.
The rate of change for new units that opened in 2015 is 312 units at above welfare rate to 165 units at welfare rate or 1.9:1. This rate of change is almost double what the 2005 Housing Plan called for but is better than most previous years (and likely future years) because the Budsey building, funded by the province, opened late in the year with 146 units.
The rate of change looking into the future, with DTES developments proposed or under construction as of the end of Feburary 2016, is about 8 units above welfare rate for every one unit at welfare rate, or 1,663 unaffordable units to 205 units at welfare rate.
Considering that there are at least 836 homeless people in the DTES, along with over 3,350 living in inadequate privately-owned SRO hotel rooms, this rate of change is completely inadequate to meet the desperate need for affordable housing. While a few units of welfare rate social housing, in addition to the Budsey building, are in the works, most of the new social housing units are in social mix buildings planned for 955 E Hastings, 41 E. Hastings and 288 E. Hastings. These buildings will push up land values and rents, resulting in an overall loss of low-income housing.
The rate of change for new units approved and proposed but not built for 2015 is as follows:
This is an excerpt from the 2015 Hotel Report, Our Homes Can’t Wait.