Only in Vancouver is $1,650 a month affordable rent

More than 200 new rental units approved by the city

The benchmark definition of “affordable housing” in Vancouver took an interesting, if not depressing, turn Tuesday night.

Vancouver city council approved more than 200 new rental homes across pockets of East Van and Oakridge, with oh-so-affordable rates ranging between $1,250 a month for a studio apartment and $1,650 for a one-bedroom suite.

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The project at Kingsway and Gladstone Street calls for 45 studio suites at $1,256 per month, 18 one-bedrooms suites for $1,654 per month, 31 two bedrooms units for $2,079 per month and seven three-bedroom suites for $2,603 per month.

The lucky folks at East 22nd Avenue and Rupert Street will enjoy 65 one-bedroom suites at a cost of $1,476 per month, 29 two-bedroom digs for $2,080, and four three-bedroom suites for $2,372.

A trio of three-storey townhouse buildings with 20 three-bedroom townhomes were also approved on Willow Street between 38th and 41st avenues.

“The city is working tenaciously to approve and build new affordable housing as we reset our housing policy, so people who live and work in Vancouver can afford to stay here and put down roots,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a news release. “These new rental homes will give young people and growing families in East Vancouver and Oakridge more affordable housing options, and keep those neighbourhoods liveable and vibrant now and into the future.”

Tuesday’s decision aligns with three city-led initiatives to bolster affordability: Housing Reset, Rental 100 program and the Affordable Housing Choices Rezoning Policy.

The Rental 100 Policy aims to encourage new housing projects dedicated solely to renters. As part of the Affordable Housing Choices Rezoning Policy, the city looks for projects up to six storeys in height located near key arterials and transit centres that offer 100 per cent secured rental suites or are sold at 20 per cent below market value.

In other sobering housing news, a group calling itself the “Chinatown Concern Group” is organizing a protest on May 23 to call for more preservation and less densification in Chinatown.

The group’s main gripe is a highrise proposal on Keefer Street that group members say will displace low-income seniors in the area.

“New luxury condos are going up at breakneck speeds in Chinatown while residents living on a knife’s edge of affordability are being pushed out,” group organizer Beverly Ho said in a news release. “Mayor Gregor [Robertson] has the responsibility to protect the heart of Chinatown and ensure Chinatown is thriving and affordable.”

The group’s protest is slated for 5 p.m. on May 23 at Vancouver city hall.

@JohnKurucz

jkurucz@vancourier.com

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