The third and final phase of Fraserview Housing Co-op in River District will produce 140 new units of co-op housing aimed at families bringing in between $41,000 and $124,000 annually. Thirty per cent will be reserved for households earning less than $68,000 annually.
Officials, including outgoing Mayor Gregor Robertson, marked the groundbreaking at an Oct. 25 press conference.
The project, being built by the Community Land Trust at 3183 and 3245 Pierview Cres. near Kerr Street and Southeast Marine Drive, includes 16 studios, 22 one-bedroom, 51 two-bedroom and 31 three-bedroom apartments, as well as 14 two-bedroom and six three-bedroom townhomes.
Rents will start at $1,038 a month for studios, $1,200 for one-bedrooms, $1,450 for two-bedrooms and $1,700 for three-bedroom apartments and townhomes.
Thom Armstrong, executive director of Co-op Housing Federation of BC and the Community Land Trust — the federation's non-profit real estate arm — was also at the press conference, as were Luke Harrison, CEO of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA); and Tiffany Duzita, director of development for the Community Land Trust.
The City of Vancouver provided the land for the project on a 99-year lease.
“We’re so desperately in need of safe, secure, affordable housing that’s going to be permanently affordable," Armstrong told the Courier. "Because this housing is on a 99-year lease from the city, it will be out of the market and immune from speculation and continue to provide affordable homes for families for the next century.”
During the press conference, Armstrong said a turning point for the Community Land Trust was in 2012 when Robertson struck a task force on affordable housing. In its report to council, the task force urged the city to take a look at community land trusts to help develop affordable housing. Armstrong credited Robertson for "championing the community housing sector more than anyone else in the country."
He maintains partnerships such as the one between the Community Land Trust, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency, are crucial in producing affordable housing.
“No one gets much done in housing these days if they stay in their cozy little silos and pretend it’s 1982. These days, it’s all about partnerships,” Armstrong said.
“In the 80s, it was so easy to depend on federal co-op or non-profit housing programs that had 100 per cent financing and mortgage insurance. It was relatively easy to develop social housing and community housing but now the financial landscape has totally shifted. It does depend on different sources of capital and different sources of equity. If you’re not prepared to embrace partnerships with all levels of government and all housing stakeholders, you’re not going to get any housing done.”
The three phases of Fraserview Housing Co-op will produce a total of 418 homes. When completed, it will be Western Canada’s largest housing co-op.
The first phase, at 2910 East Kent Ave., targets moderate income earners and features 36 townhomes and 54 apartments with rents ranging from $2,050 to $2,750 per month — about 80 to 90 per cent of market rents in the area. Phase one received its occupancy permit this week.
The second phase, which is under construction, includes 188 units in two towers on Southeast Marine Drive, which are expected to be completed by year’s end. Some rents in the towers will be as low as the provincial shelter rate of $375, and an average of at least 25 per cent below market.
Robertson described 418 co-op homes as a "huge addition" to co-op housing in Vancouver.
“[Affordable housing] has been a top priority for our council for some time and I really hope it’s a top priority for the newly elected mayor and council,” he said. “As [Armstrong] said, the Fraserland River District [co-op] will be Western Canada’s largest housing co-op and it’s really about filling that missing middle housing gap for people on middle incomes [and creating] more diverse types of housing here in Vancouver, spread throughout the city.”
Harrison, CEO of VAHA, said the groundbreaking for the Pierview Crescent project symbolizes the success of the affordable housing program that the City, mayor and council started.
The Pierview Crescent project is part of a larger partnership between the city, VAHA and the Community Land Trust, which was announced in May of 2018, to build 1,000 affordable homes on seven city-owned sites. The value of the seven sites is about $130 million.
Meanwhile, phase one and phase two of Fraserview Housing Co-op, as well as another 80 units at 1700 Kingsway, were made possible through a 2014 agreement between the City and the Community Land Trust to create 358 units of affordable housing.