(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) A spectre haunts housing policy. The spectre of empty homes. So how many empty homes are out there? Unfortunately, inept analyses of census data often leaves us with incomplete, or even worse, completely wrong answers to this question. When we get data on empty homes for a given city, they’re seldom put into comparative perspective. What’s worse, sometimes when they’re put into comparative perspective, they’re compared with the wrong data and picked up by credulous media, spreading misinformation.
The City of Vancouver has introduced the Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Project, with density bonusing in exchange for 20% of the units renting at about 35% below market. TL;DR MIRHPP is a win-win, it manages to create both, new units that rent significantly below market, as well as market rentals. Both of which are badly needed, paid for with additional density. The allocation mechanism for deciding who gets to rent one of the sub-market units is problematic.
Metro Vancouver’s population is growing. For planning purposes we want to understand how our population will be growing. For that we need projections. Here we need to carefully distinguish two related but distinct types of population projections. projections of population demand, and projections of population growth. Projecting demand, or even just estimating current population demand, is complex. Demand is a function of a variety of factors, most importantly jobs, and amenities, as well as home prices and rents (in relation to incomes and wealth).
City of Vancouver council rejected the development application for 21 purpose-built rental townhouses in Vancouver’s exclusive enclave of Shaughnessy last week, and the owner is now proceeding with building a mansion on that lot instead. Councillors gave a variety of reasons for the rejection. Some were voicing concerns of about the compatibility of hospice use with the 3 ½ storey townhouse development next door, which seems far fetched as a quick look at St John’s hospice at UBC (the low building on the right in the picture here) shows.
Another “working paper” on Vancouver’s real estate woes came out, this one by Josh Gordon. We have been contemplating for a week now if it is worth responding to, but after seeing one too many obviously false statements about what the working paper supposedly shows making the rounds, we felt the benefits of addressing this might outweigh the costs of further entrenching the camps in Vancouver’s real estate debates with this post.