Last year, the City of Vancouver approved thousands of new housing units. Photo: rabbit75_fot / Adobe Stock

Last year, the City of Vancouver approved thousands of new housing units, the most approvals since the city’s 10-year housing strategy was implemented in 2017.

Recent information published by the City shows that over 8,800 homes were given the green light in 2021.

For the second consecutive year, over half of all Vancouver housing approvals were purpose-built-rentals or for social housing in 2021, according to the City, which is a “major milestone,” considering that 50 per cent of current residents and 75 per cent of new households are renters.

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The Housing Vancouver Strategy, which was adopted in 2017 to address the region’s housing crisis, aims to build 72,000 new homes across Vancouver over the next 10 years between 2018 and 2027. Purpose-built rentals and condo units make up the majority of the City’s housing decade-long target, which account for 20,000 and 30,000 units of the 72,000 total. To date, the City says it has achieved 52 per cent of its housing objective.

“Vancouver is experiencing a high demand for housing, fuelled by job recovery, higher migration to BC, and students returning to in-class learning,” said Theresa O’Donnell, Vancouver’s general manager of planning, urban design and sustainability in a press release. “Encouraging the development of new rental housing is critical to ensuring there are a variety of housing options to meet the diverse needs of people who live and work in Vancouver.”

Last year, 1,344 new social and supportive housing units were approved, marking the second-highest quantity of approvals since 2010. The number of social and supportive housing approvals surpassed 2021’s annual approval target of 1,200 units. So far, 7,128 units in this category have been approved to date, 59 per cent of the City’s 12,000-unit goal for the next decade.

Another 2,956 units of new purpose-built market rental housing was given the thumbs up in 2021, including 176 new below-market rental units. This was well above the City’s 2,000-unit objective for 2021 and marks the 43 per cent completion mark for the 10-year target. Of the total rental approvals over the past five years, the City says that 600 units have been approved as below-market rental housing, which meets 15 per cent of the 10-year goal of 4,000 units for this housing type.

In 2021, 3,779 condo units were approved by the City, more than the 2021 target of 3,000 suites for the year. A total of 17,498 condos have been approved up to the five-year mark of the Housing Vancouver Strategy.

Nearly 300 laneway homes were given the stamp of approval in 2021. While 61 per cent of the City’s 10-year benchmark of 4,000 laneway homes has been approved so far, last year’s approvals were only 75 per cent of the 400-unit goal for 2021. Similarly, 456 townhomes and coach houses were approved last year, but this fell short of the 600-home target for 2021, according to the City of Vancouver.

In addition to approvals, about 1,700 new homes were completed in 2021, comprising 689 new purpose-built rental housing units and 1,669 social housing residences.

“While the City is making significant progress toward enabling new housing supply, much work is needed to address the current housing need, future demand, and long-standing backlog in delivery of non-market and rental housing,” said O’Donnell.

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