City's Temporary Affordable Housing Under Fire from Homeowners

The pushback against the City of Vancouver's recent rollout of the first of its Temporary Modular Housing (TMH) is a stark reminder of why we formed Abundant Housing Vancouver.

If you haven't seen it already, check out the new TMH the City recently installed at Main and Terminal. This is the City's effort to provide affordable housing to those most in need on a temporary, or transitional basis.

If you're interested in learning more about the TMH program, have a look at a host of info on item 2 of the minutes from the December 13th, 2016 public hearing.

The installation at 220 Terminal Avenue consists of 40 units, renting at the $375/month income assistance shelter rate. This is housing for those who would otherwise live in SROs, a form of housing that's been dramatically eroded by newer development.

The finishing touches were being put on the TMH at 220 Terminal Avenue just this past week.

The bigger picture for the City's TMH plan is to install this housing on three other City-owned CD-1 zoned sites, as well as looking to third-party partners (government, commercial, faith-based, sites awaiting development, etc) for additional temporary TMH sites.

Sadly, that plan has drawn predictable complaints from the community, mostly from residents near the proposed TMH site at 3590 Copley Street, beside the Copley Community Orchard (both the Orchard and the proposed TMH site being City-owned CD-1 land).

BTW, the complete list of CD-1 sites targeted for TMH is:

2610 Grandview Highway [map]
4170 Nanaimo Street [map]
3098 S. E. Marine Dr., and 3099 E. Kent Avenue N. [map]
3590 Copley St., 2275-2355 Vanness Av., 3560-3590 Walker St. [map]

The residents' concerns (filed as public comments to the City) are worth reviewing if you're wondering why we started Abundant Housing Vancouver in the first place. Lest you think your neighbours are as charitable as you, first peruse some of these missives.

The City received just 2 letters of support for the TMH program, vs 45 against.

The complaints hit on cliché anti-density topics such as fear of property value decreases, hand-wringing about personal safety, and outright classism when it comes to what type of person should be welcome in their neighbourhood.

Some of the 95% negative comments the City received re TMH (emphasis ours):

“Were it to be filled with low income housing I am sure it would be effectively destroyed. I know that I would feel less safe going there alone.” - Nicole Badke

“I can see our property values go down by ⅓ or more !!! And the crime easily go up by 50 % !!! God help us !!!” - Ting Hii [Subject line: "Proposed low cost degradation of our houses"]

“My house value will be to low to sell, and the area will be INCREDIBLY unsafe for my young family. Please find a new location, perhaps in an area that is already a hot bed for drug use and homelessness.” - Devin Nunemaker

“Although we want the homeless to be helped, this is a family area. It is not close to any grocery stores or any businesses or offices that can be of easy access to the homeless.”- Susete Helena and Fatima Medeiros [Ed note: the Copley site, to which they're referring, is a 3 minute walk from Nanaimo Station.]

This is a family neighbourhood, and while we understand that the proposal is for temporary housing, we believe these locations would be more appropriate for permanent social housing for families and single parents.” - Sara Weinstein and Jason Winters

“We are highly educated, high income, high tax paying families raising groups who contribute a great deal to the city and we are not going to let you turn this area into what could potentially a downtown eastside.” - Lawrence Ng

Will there be a screening system in place to evaluate appropriate residents to this neighbourhood?" - Bree Cropper [Ed. note: Bree claims to be OK with social housing and progressive but wrote a massive list of demands in addition to this screening comment.]

“Get these bums and mental illness just released to stay in Downtown eastside and keep your drugs. In that ‘neighbrohood’ [sic] where they belong. Back off you pricks on city hall!” - Kip Daniels 

Similar to the Kettle Society rezoning back in the fall, numerous residents claim to be progressive and interested in helping those less fortunate, but would simply prefer it not take place in their neighborhood.

Numerous negative comments on the Copley site focused on the mistaken idea that the city was removing the orchard. This is not the case, as seen in the City's slide deck.

And remember, this is just a taste of the ground-level resistance the City and these potential TMH tenants face in securing even temporary, transitional housing for themselves.

It's not often that new, dramatically below market social housing for those most in need becomes available. Far more typical is the displacement of exactly these tenants when SROs are redeveloped into market rate condo or rental towers, due to the widespread single family zoning that prevents even gentle densification on 81% of Vancouver's residential land.

Yellow-zoned areas allow only Single Family Houses, forcing development into areas such as the DTES, displacing tenants from SROs and forcing them into transitional housing like TMHs.

Therefore it's vitally important that we all wholeheartedly support projects like the TMH program, hopefully paving the way for more sites beyond the City's four CD-1 zoned lots already slated to receive Temporary Modular Housing.

If you're interested in lending your voice of support for TMH, write to Mayor and Council.

Join AHV to help create positive solutions to Vancouver's housing crisis.