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Ending homelessness only 450 units away, report shows

 A report to council today identified that the current gap to end street homelessness in Vancouver by 2015 is just 450 new units of affordable housing.

“We know from the data our staff collected that our work, in partnership with the Province and community partners, is making progress on ending street homelessness,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Now we’re just 450 units of new housing away from making sure no one needs to sleep on the street at night. I’m confident we’re on the right track.”

The Mayor also stated his commitment to use City land to keep leveraging support to end street homelessness. “By using City-owned land to leverage funding from senior levels of government and the private sector, we’ve been able to secure more than 1,500 new units of social housing. We need to keep this going.”

Staff provided an in-depth report on the challenges of homelessness and affordable housing in Vancouver, detailing the current situation of housing ranging from shelters and social housing to rental apartments and secondary suites. Data presented to Council today included:

  • 450 units of new affordable housing are required to end street homelessness by 2015, with another 750 units needed by 2020;
  • 39% of renters are paying more than 30% of their income on housing;
  • Since 1979, a west-side single family home has increased in value by 480%, while median income has increased by just 9%;
  • 80% of Vancouver’s homeless have one or more health issue including addiction, mental illness, or other chronic illness;
  • 28 buildings have been targeted by the Standards of Maintenance by-law in the last 14 months; and
  • 2,323 new rental housing units, including STIR projects, laneway housing, and secondary suites, were built or approved between 2009-2010.

“We’ve got a lot of momentum and we’ve come a long way in these past two years, but there is still more work to do,” said the Mayor. “More housing is being protected and maintained. Our enforcement on SRO buildings is paying off. And our work to expedite construction on new social housing is getting units open as quickly as possible. Ending street homelessness is within our grasp.”

The City will be undertaking a public engagement process from February through April 2011 on the City’s housing and homelessness strategies, with a final report back to council at the end of April 2011.

Today’s council presentation can be viewed at: http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20110201/documents/HousingandHomelessnessStrategy.pdf

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