Can Delta’s new Housing Action Plan protect low-income renters and seniors from being squeezed out of their community?
That remains to be seen as a possible Ladner renoviction has the community buzzing with concern.
Approved by council late last year, the action plan contains a series of housing recommendations including protecting renters who are in more affordable, older units.
The main actions identified to support tenants and protect the city’s limited rental stock are developing a tenant relocation policy and a rental stock protection policy. Both are still to be developed by city staff.
A tenant relocation policy reduces the negative impacts of redevelopment on existing tenants by ensuring they have adequate time to find new housing, are properly compensated where necessary, and, in some cases, receive priority for new units in the development.
A rental stock protection policy ensures that redevelopment doesn’t lead to a net loss of rental units by requiring that when purpose-built rental units are redeveloped, the same or more new rental units would need to be part of the redevelopment.
Both strategies are described as measures the city can implement in the short-term.
A report on the action plan notes tenant relocation policies have several potential measures including developers being required to implement a tenant relocation plan and cover moving expenses, as well as tenants receiving assistance in finding new accommodations and financial support for relocation.
Tenants may also have right of first refusal for a discount on market rents, or first right of new non-market rentals if they part of the planned project.
As far as considerations for rental stock protection in Delta, the report notes some Metro Vancouver communities have also implemented policies that protect their existing rental stock.
A policy can include rental replacement requirements. An example includes older buildings with more affordable rents requiring a one-to-one replacement of units secured as affordable rentals through a housing agreement.
Another possibility is having strata conversion requirements where rental apartments cannot be converted to strata without having a vacancy rate above a certain threshold, or where the proposed project is over a certain size threshold.
The action plan is to be developed as a significant proportion of the city’s rental stock is getting older.
A Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation survey found that about 62 per cent of rental units were built before 1980, while 37 per cent were built before 2000.
The report notes much of that stock is likely to be redeveloped over the next 10-to-20 years.
The action plan also reflects some of the lofty goals in the cities Official Community Plan.
Those include encouraging and facilitating housing that meets the needs of residents of different income levels, encouraging seniors and special needs housing in town centres as well as considering incentives, such as bonus density, to encourage the provision of seniors’ rental or special needs housing.
According to the report, rental housing and non-market rental housing typically benefit from incentives because those housing types may be either not financially feasible due to the cost of land and construction or not desirable to build because there’s greater profits through other types of development.
Some of the measures in the action plan include introducing pre-zoning, a process which can speed up the construction of priority housing.