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November 22 is National Housing Day; a day to put a spotlight on housing issues, particularly the importance of rental housing.  Rental housing is an essential building block of Canadian communities.   Purpose-built rental housing provides a safe, secure form of housing for our growing workforce.   The Canadian Rental Housing Coalition urges the federal government to make rental housing a priority in the upcoming budget.

To learn more about the Canadian Rental Housing Coalition and how you can support our efforts, check out the Take Action section and endorse the CRHC Charter.

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On Tuesday November 26th, the Housing Justice Initiative and the Rental Housing Council will host a Forum on Housing Issues in Vancouver.  The forum will discuss the delivery of both rental and owned housing in the City:

“The forum has been organized to bring together important stakeholders in the process and politics of the provision of adequate housing in Vancouver. It will provide an opportunity for representatives of landlords, property managers, and developers to share concerns and propose solutions that can be used to inform housing policy.”

The Invitation to the Forum can be found below.  Please contact Research Assistant Maureen Mendoza ( for more information and to confirm attendance.

Event Details:
Forum Invitation
November 26, 2013 8:30 am – 10:00 am
World Art Centre, SFU Woodwards
Room 2555 – 148 West Hastings Street

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#Make Rental Happen


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The Canadian Rental Housing Coalition supports York Region’s campaign to “Make Rental Happen.”

York Regional Municipality in Ontario has embarked on an awareness and advocacy campaign called “Make Rental Happen”.  Their website (Make Rental Happen) includes videos of IBM Canada representatives speaking about the importance of rental housing for its workforce, as well as comedian Rick Mercer highlighting the importance of this issue.

Check out the website here Make Rental Happen to add your support, and follow the campaign on Twitter #Make Rental Happen.

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On May 13, 2013 the City of New Westminster adopted a Secured Market Rental Housing Policy outlining the City’s strategies and actions aimed at retaining, renewing and enhancing the supply of secured rental housing.  The new policy lays out specific objectives and describes the municipal actions necessary to achieve them.

The policy focuses on creating incentives that will encourage the private development community to create new secured market rental units.  The goal is to boost the supply of market rental housing and ensure that these units remain in the rental supply over the long-term through Housing Agreements and no-separate sales (no stratification) covenants.

Objectives – Retention:

  • Reduce the likelihood that the existing purpose-built rental stock will be redeveloped.
  • If demolition occurs, reduce the impact of the loss of the rental housing stock on tenants.

Objectives – Renewal:

  • Increase investment into the existing purpose-built rental housing stock.
  • Increase the life span of the existing stock.
  • Improve the operating costs of the purpose-built rental housing stock.

Objectives – Enhancement (long-term):

  • Rental for 60 years or life of the building.
  • Restrictions on stratification.
  • Owned and managed by one entity.

Some of the municipal tools utilized by the City include: 

  • Moratorium on strata conversions
  • Increased density offered through density bonusing or rezoning
  • Reduced parking requirements
  • Reduced building permit fees
  • Concurrent processing of re-zoning and development permit applications
  • Housing agreements

Related Links:

City of New Westminster – Housing page
Secured Market Rental Housing Policy
Secured Market Rental Housing Policy - Presentation, May 2013


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Last month, Metro Vancouver hosted two Sustainability Breakfasts on the subject of rental housing.  The sessions featured three presenters, each discussing local purpose-built rental projects and the municipal tools used to create them:

  • Dena Kae Beno & David Brownlee, City of Richmond – Kiwanis Affordable Seniors Housing Case Study
  • Bev Grieve, City of New Westminster – Secured Market Rental Housing Policy
  • Don Littleford, Metro Vancouver – Heather Place

Richmond staff discussed Kiwanis Towers, a large-scale redevelopment of an aging existing non-profit seniors housing site in Richmond.  This complex project involves multiple partners and a significant municipal role in the form of both policy and funding, and will create 296 units of new seniors housing at affordable rents.

The City of New Westminster presented on their newly adopted Secured Rental Housing Policy for retaining, renewing and enhancing the City’s purpose-built rental housing stock.  The new policy outlines how municipal tools will be used to accomplish these aims, and for new rental, taking into account the length of time the units are secured as rental.

Don Littleford explained Metro Vancouver’s role in housing and in particular, plans for redevelopment of Heather Place in Vancouver to increase the supply of purpose-built rental housing in this transit accessible location, in a manner that is suitable for a diversity of household types, including families.

The key message of these seminars was that purpose-built rental housing, including affordable purpose rental housing for families and seniors, is being created and retained in Metro Vancouver, by a range of stakeholders. The region’s municipalities have some tools in their tool kit that are working to help facilitate new rental housing.

Presentations links:

Kiwanis Affordable Seniors Housing Case Study, City of Richmond
Secured Market Rental Housing Policy, City of New Westminster
Rental Housing Matters, Metro Vancouver

Related Rental Housing Links:

What Works: Affordable Housing Initiatives in Metro Vancouver Municipalities
Metro Vancouver Affordable Housing Strategy
Metro Vancouver Housing Databook
Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation – website
Metro Vancouver Housing Affordability – website

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On Thursday May 30th, Canada’s Big City Mayors Caucus met to discuss the growing housing crisis affecting cities across the country.  Among the topics discussed was the need to stimulate the creation of new rental housing in cities all across the country.  Over the past 15 years, just 10 % of new residential construction has been rental, while 32% of Canadians are renters.  The Mayor’s Caucus resolved to invite provincial and federal representatives to the table to discuss the growing housing crisis in the hopes that senior governments will begin take a national perspective on housing.

The mission of the Canadian Rental Housing Coalition is to work collaboratively with all levels of government and the private and non-profit sectors to increase the supply of rental housing in Canada.  The CRHC is garnering support from the business community, municipalities, and others to send a strong message to the Federal Government to provide tax incentives and funding for rental housing.

Add your city’s or organization’s support – Endorse the Charter

Big City Mayors’ Caucus – Members
FCM Housing
The Canadian Rental Housing Coalition Charter

Media Links:
Affordable housing tops the agenda as mayors make plea to Ottawa for help – Globe and Mail
Big-city mayors say Canada has a housing crisis – Global News


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The City of Humboldt, Saskatchewan has approved three new incentive programs to assist in the creation of new rental units in the city.  City Council is hopeful that the combination of municipal-level incentives that compliment existing provincial programs will attract investment from property owners and landlords.  The new incentive programs include – the Rental Construction Incentive Program, the Rental Repair Incentive Program, and the Secondary Suite Incentive Program.

Related Links:

Rental Construction Incentive Program
Rental Repair Incentive Program
Secondary Suite Incentive Program
City of Humboldt website 

Related Media:

City Set to Launch Rental Incentive – Humboldt Journal
City Provides Incentives for Rental Properties – Discover Humboldt



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Senior government leadership and resources are essential in order to address the rental housing shortages facing Canadian cities.  The Province of Saskatchewan is currently undergoing a period of significant growth and as a result communities across the province are facing low vacancy rates and insufficient rental housing supply.  To help boost the supply of rental housing, the Province of Saskatchewan introduced the Rental Housing Construction Initiative as a way of stimulating investment in purpose-built rental housing.  The program provides provincial grants of up to $5000 per unit to municipalities to match municipal grants or incentives for each new rental unit constructed.  Municipal incentives may take the form of land, property tax exemptions, or up front incentives.

Is this a model that other provinces or the federal government could adopt?

Related Links:

Rental Construction Incentive – Fact Sheet
Government of Saskatchewan, Social Services – Rental Housing
Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership



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Soaring rents, owner-occupation evictions, and line-ups and bidding wars on rental units.  This is what you can expect as renter in the GTA.

Rental demand in the city has been surging, due in part to high real estate prices and lifestyle factors.  The vacancy rate in the city has steadily dropped from a recent high of 3.5% in 2009 to around 1.4% today.  The condo boom in the city has given the illusion of a lot of supply, but these new units are not keeping up with demand for rental units.  In addition, many of the newly purchased units will not come online for 3-5 years.  The condo market supplies approximately 5000 new rental units each year, but with approximately 10,000 new renter households per year in the GTA, there is a huge gap between supply and demand.

The result of this supply-demand imbalance is bidding wars on rental condos, rent offers hundreds of dollars over asking, line-ups and demanding application screening processes for renters as young professionals, families, and students all compete for the same small supply of rental units.

These challenges highlight the need for new purpose-built rental housing in the GTA.  Purpose-built rental provides a number of key benefits over rental-condos, including enhanced housing stability and increased affordability over time.  In fact, the effects on affordability would likely be even more immediate given that renters are currently paying a premium for the high-end finishes and amenities of rental-condo units (a 40% premium according to CMHC).

The experience of renters in the GTA is common in cities all across Canada.  The Canadian Rental Housing Coalition is building multi-stakeholder support from local government, development and real estate industries, non-profit rental housing groups, tenant rights organizations and rental housing managers to send a strong message to the Federal Government to provide incentives for the creation of purpose-built rental housing.  Please read our Charter and add your organization’s endorsement here: The CRHC Charter.

Related articles on the rental experience in the GTA:

Rental condos new bidding-war battleground
Toronto Star

Condo boom backfiring on renters
Toronto Star

It’s a renters’ revolution: Spiffy condos for the tenacious and brave of heart
National Post

Students still can’t find rooms – in October


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The City of North Vancouver recently approved the development of a 77-storey mixed-use condo building in the Lower Lonsdale neighbourhood that will contain 18 market rental units.  The units were made possible through a two-floor density bonus granted by the City.  This development reignited a long standing debate in the city, and one that is common on councils across the region – Is the provision of market rental housing enough to justify additional density and allow developers to avoid contributing cash or other community amenities?  In the end, council decided in favour of the density bonus in exchange for the new market rental housing, citing that the addition of new rental housing contributes to net affordability in the city and is consistent with the City’s official community plan.

The City of North Vancouver should be commended for taking the necessary steps to address the need for rental housing in their community.  In the absence of senior government leadership on housing, municipalities are forced to find their own ways to address their community’s housing needs.  If senior governments were to develop policy and incentives to encourage the development of purpose-built rental, there would be less pressure on local governments to forgo community amenity contributions in favour of market rental housing.  This is precisely what the Canadian Rental Housing Coalition Charter advocates for.  The City of North Vancouver is one of 27 municipalities and housing organizations to endorse the CRHC Charter.  Read the CRHC Charter and to add your organization’s endorsement: The CRHC Charter.

Related Media:
Condo approval reignites city rental debate
North Shore News


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