Vancouver City Council approves $2 billion housing mandate

Gregor Robertson
Photo by Chandra Bodalia

new $2 billion dollar housing portfolio received its initial mandate from Vancouver City Council on Tuesday.

The Vancouver Affordable Housing Endowment Fund (VAHEF) will be dedicated to meeting the housing and affordability needs of Vancouver residents and to create inclusive communities across the city.

To achieve this, all non-market housing assets currently owned or administered by the City will be managed as a single portfolio.

VAHEF will also benefit from existing City housing funding and land use policies, and will pursue new partnerships and funding programs with the federal and provincial governments and community partners to preserve and grow existing affordable housing stock.

“Vancouver is building more social and rental housing than any other city in Canada,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The Vancouver Affordable Housing Endowment Fund will take our efforts to the next level and create more affordable housing in our city for many generations to come.”

Five provisional guiding principles will guide the planning and management of VAHEF, which is intended to:

  • Serve current and future residents through a well-managed and diverse portfolio;
  • Contribute to developing communities that have a diversity of incomes, backgrounds and households;
  • Leverage partnerships to achieve financial sustainability, grow the number of affordable homes available to residents, and ensure they meet local needs;
  • Responsibly reinvest in existing affordable housing to maintain affordability, and the condition and safety of the buildings; and
  • Manage the portfolio in a financially sustainable way to serve all Vancouver residents.

“VAHEF is a critical opportunity to provide more affordable housing over the long term,” said Gil Kelley, General Manager of Planning, Urban Design, and Sustainability. “This clear mandate will coordinate the City’s approach to creating more homes that are affordable to a diversity of residents, in line with the targets outlined in our Housing Vancouver strategy.”

City staff engaged with senior government and housing partners in the non-profit and private sectors over the past several months to gather early input on what the purpose and goals of VAHEF should be.

The Council approved the Affordable Housing Delivery and Financial Strategy in June 2018, a key action of which was the creation of VAHEF.

VAHEF will consolidate all non-market housing assets currently managed by the City’s Capital Fund and Property Endowment Fund. Dedicated funding from housing sources such as development contributions and lease payments will be invested into sustaining and growing the portfolio. It will also include sites that have been designated for development by the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA), land leased to housing partners, and City-owned social housing in buildings that are part of larger private developments.

City staff will now develop an implementation strategy for VAHEF and report back to Council in summer 2019. This will include portfolio targets, a governance structure, business and operations models, and a transition plan.