How Vancity is addressing Vancouver’s affordable housing crisis.

It’s not exactly surprising to learn that Vancouver currently ranks as one of the least affordable places to live in the world. It’s a challenging time for all of us, but especially for low to middle income families who spend 30% or more of their income on housing. Outside factors like climate change and a lack of safe and adequate affordable rental housing only make the problem worse. 

So, how can we break down these challenges that we’re facing in regard to affordable housing? Let’s talk more about this issue, and how Vancity – alongside the Vancity Community Foundation – is addressing Vancouver’s affordable housing crisis. 

Affordable housing challenges in Metro Vancouver.

Here are just some of the affordable housing challenges facing Metro Vancouver today. 

Rent versus income

Affordable housing is often defined as spending up to 30% of your household income on housing. For example, if you make $50,000 per year, you should be spending roughly $15,000 per year on housing or around $1,250 per month. According to the Metro Vancouver 2022 Housing Data Book, here’s where we currently stand in Metro Vancouver.

  • The median rent for an apartment increased by 2.7% in 2021 — making it $1,475. That’s a 55.3% increase from 2011 to 2021. 
  • Apartment rents have increased faster than inflation or the average wage, especially in the past five years.  
  • Median rent has increased by 97% between 2002 and 2021, compared to a 67% increase in average wages in BC and a 39% increase in inflation over the same period. This discrepancy between income and rent is often referred to as the affordability gap. 

Pre-constructions costs and access to capital

Many not-for-profits, co-operatives, and Indigenous groups are working to address the affordable housing crisis by acquiring, developing, or redeveloping their aging buildings or underutilized land. But many of these developments can lose momentum before they get off the ground because of the high pre-construction process costs, which can be challenging to finance and maintain. This lack of access to capital sources forces many organizations that want to create and preserve affordable housing for their communities to sell their land to market developers, slow their progress, or scrap the redevelopment project altogether. 

That’s why Vancity, alongside the Vancity Community Foundation, is working to address these barriers and help more affordable housing projects reach the market. A great example of this is the Affordable Housing Program and Accelerator Fund – a program designed to help increase the supply of community owned climate-ready affordable rental housing for low to moderate income households, including Indigenous and equity-seeking groups.  

This program is part of our commitment to addressing the affordable housing crisis and making Metro Vancouver more livable for everyone. By working together, we can help make a difference in the lives of those who need it most. 

What is the Vancity Affordable Housing Program & Accelerator Fund?

Launched in 2011, the Vancity Affordable Housing Program and Accelerator Fund was designed to help affordable housing projects move forward faster by providing low-cost, flexible loans to cover expenses during the pre-construction phases of an affordable housing development when funding is challenging to obtain. This includes non-repayable grants for the vision, feasibility, and business planning phases of affordable housing projects.  

As of May 2022, the Fund has made 76 loans totaling $28M for 59 different housing projects, supporting the development of 4,200 sustainable and affordable rental homes. It’s empowered projects like The Ryder,  Rivermark, and Mount Douglas Manor to reach the finish line, which now provide permanent, affordable rental housing for local communities. 

How you can help.

The Vancity Affordable Housing Accelerator Program & Fund has continued to grow in recent years to help address the problem of affordable housing across BC. And we couldn’t make this progress without the help of our members.

Putting your money where your values are is a great way to support the continued development of affordable housing projects. When you bank with Vancity, a portion of your day-to-day deposits support impactful areas like affordable housing. 30% of our annual net profits are invested back into BC communities every year.

We believe government institutions and the market on their own can’t solve the complex housing problems we face. That’s why we’re committed to being a part of the solution — and you can be, too. Join Vancity today to put your money where it builds affordable housing.


Interested in supporting climate-ready, affordable rental housing development? Learn more about how you can directly contribute to the Vancity Affordable Housing Accelerator Fund today.

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