Novel Map Targets Hidden Opportunities for Affordable Housing in BC

According to some knowledgeable observers, Vancouver’s “crisis” in affordable housing is setting off a “gold rush” in innovative thinking, as people fed up with waiting for government action create their own new options on scales large and small.

That creative thinking, it turns out, isn’t limited to finding alternative paths to affordable home ownership. With several British Columbia cities ranked among Canada’s most severely unaffordable places to rent as well as buy, what’s a squeezed tenant to do?

This is the first time demographic, geographic, income and housing costs have been mapped for rental households — an estimated 55 per cent majority in Vancouver, for instance. And unlike that celebrated provincial initiative, this came fully from the non-profit sector, one more example of how civil society is stepping into the void left by the reduced role of various levels of government in providing housing.

HOW THE INDEX WORKS

The B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association’s new index is the product of five indicators compiled from Statistics Canada data. On each indicator, each community is scored from 0 to 10, with 0 being considered the best. Those are then added up to reach an overall community score out of 50.

The variables behind the index are:

Affordability: For a housing unit to be considered affordable, it must cost the household no more than 30 per cent of its pre-tax income.

Overspending: Overspending measures renter households that spend more than half of their before-tax income on their housing plus utilities.

Income Gap: This indicator measures the extra income a household would need to earn, in order to reach the level at which its housing is deemed affordable.

Overcrowding: Based on the federal National Occupancy Standard, this measures how densely residents must pack in together. At most two adults can share one bedroom for housing to be considered “suitable.”

Bedroom Shortfall: A related indicator counts the minimum number of additional bedrooms a community would need to house all renters “suitably.”

The map allows viewers to enlarge and move map in order to see a particular area of BC, and select a particular district or municipality shown on the map – two tabs are display, one for regional districts and one for municipalities, then click on that regional district or municipality for more information.

The map is available here.

You may read the whole Tyee article here.

 

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