Last Wednesday, the mayor addressed a full class at the Board of Trade, with a PowerPoint lecture that outlined the City’s progress on the housing crisis.
Not your grandfather’s BoT
With some helpful slides and a low-key professorial manner, he articulated some obvious but rarely made points:
- We have in this society “a full-blown capitalist housing system” – 91 percent of housing developed by the private sector; 9 percent public.
- Maps don’t end at Boundary Road.
- The key to addressing labour supply needs and provide access to jobs is a good regional transit system.
Then, another chart:
Snap quiz: how many of us knew the City had almost reached its housing target for the shelterless? In fact, except for minimum wage citizens, the results look pretty good. Or so the mayor thought until he saw the media coverage. Because good results, as the politician in the mayor noted, is not how data is portrayed. But it is why the debate and discussion has shifted more and more to affordable rental.
The dilemma, as Kennedy stated, is this:
How do we provide new non-market housing options (shelterless to living wage) without touching the older stock that already provides a lot of the affordable housing. In other words, when you have to tear something down in a built-out city (or change the scale of existing neighbourhoods with increased density), you will not be well received.
By the end, it was evident why, as prof or politico, Kennedy Stewart gets a passing grade. So far.
Here are this student’s notes, with a short essay to be graded:
We’re all familiar with those maps that show how the colours of high income and housing prices, blue in the maps above, have smurfed their way towards the City’s eastern border. But when seen metro-wide, it’s also evident that the lower-income areas have grown dramatically as well. Both are typically spun as negatives. But are they simply what we should have reasonably expected?
The question for our data analysts is this: when adjusted for population and higher income growth, how are the ratios different from 1980 to 2015? In particular, is the growth in Vancouver blue what an extrapolation done in 1980 would have predicted for 2015 when looked at regionally?
The unstated assumption in our debate is this: the City of Vancouver should have the same range of neighbourhoods as measured in income and housing costs today as it has had in the past, regardless of population growth and expansion of the region. Politically we expect housing problems to be addressed within the 44 square miles of the City, regardless of what else happens elsewhere.
Is that realistic? And, with a good transportation system, does it matter that much?