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Will it get easier to find an affordable place to rent in Delta?

Delta has seen very little new purpose-built rental housing developments added
rental housing in the city of delta, bc
Metro Vancouver’s draft long-term strategy states Metro 2050 would encourage policies and actions that expand rental housing supply, mitigate or limit the loss of existing purpose-built rental and non-market housing stock and protect renter households.

Will it be a little easier to find a place to rent in Delta?

Metro 2050 forecasts indicate that over the next 30 years, Metro Vancouver will receive an additional one million residents for a total population of 3.8 million by the year 2050, which means 500,000 additional housing units will be needed.

Creating new rental housing to help meet the growing demand poses one of the biggest challenges.

That’s according to Metro Vancouver as it gathers feedback on a draft version of Metro 2050, a long-range planning document submitted to Delta council.

Gathering community and public feedback on Metro 2050 until Nov. 26, the draft document notes that the regional growth strategy focuses on encouraging growth in urban centres to “frequent transit development areas,” and that most of the housing and employment growth will occur in those key areas.

Apartments are projected to make up more than 50 per cent of future growth, followed by multi-attached units. Single-detached housing will grow, however, that growth will be minimal as locations for additional housing are exhausted.

The draft strategy also notes a diverse and affordable housing stock is critical to accommodating growth and supporting the region’s population, but communities across the region are experiencing significant housing pressures paired with accelerating housing costs in the rental and ownership markets.

High demand as well as high land and construction costs make the delivery of new rental units that are affordable to low and moderate income households challenging, particularly in proximity to transit. “Lower income households earning less than 80 per cent of the Regional Median Household Income, who make up the majority of renters in the region, are being forced to look further afield for housing that is affordable and meets their needs. Additionally, there is a shortage of permanent, affordable and supportive housing units to meet the acute housing needs of vulnerable populations including those experiencing or at risk of homelessness,” the report states.

Recommending a number of strategies for a diverse mix of housing types for a range of household incomes, the report notes Metro Vancouver will assist member jurisdictions in developing housing strategies or actions plans, as well as monitor and report on their progress.

Already having passed zoning changes, which will make it easier for more homeowners to have a secondary suite, the City of Delta is currently undertaking its own housing action plan.

In the works for a couple of years, that plan is to come back to council later this year for approval.

A staff report two years ago notes ownership is not always an option for low and moderate income households, making the availability of purpose-built rental housing important.

“The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) reported that Delta’s rental vacancy rate in 2018 was 1.3 per cent, whereas a healthy residential rental market typically has a two per cent to three per cent vacancy rate,” the report notes. “Very little purpose-built rental housing had been added over the last 10 years and Delta’s purpose-built rental stock comprises only five per cent of the overall housing stock, much of which is non-market. Meanwhile, Delta’s average rental price saw a five per cent jump in 2017, as available vacancies continue to become less affordable.”

The report also notes Metro Vancouver’s projected housing needs for 2016 to 2026 estimate that Delta will need to introduce 800 new rental units over the next 10 years, 640 of which should serve households earning under $50,000 annually.

The report also notes the waitlists for short and long-term supportive housing in Delta have doubled in the past five years.

What’s more, a large component of Delta’s rental market are secondary suites or the renting out of individually owned condos or townhouses, but secondary rentals cannot be considered secure long-term housing options nor are they necessarily affordable, the report adds.

Short-term rentals such as Airbnb may also place additional strain on the secondary rental market.