Small Housing Solutions for Vancouver’s Affordability Challenges

“Vancouver can speed up its permitting and approvals systems. It can update zoning regulations to allow smaller homes on smaller, sub-divided lots. It can allow lane way houses and basement units to be sold as well as rented, more condominium micro suites could be allowed. The city can make possible smaller and more affordable three-bedroom condo units by sanctioning interior-walled third bedrooms equipped with transom-style windows”.

Vancouver Sun editorial opinion summarizes a number of recommendations for addressing housing affordability in Vancouver, especially for young people who are giving up on living in the city because of high housing costs.

The YO Home. Engineered small space living.

Clever apartments designed to maximize the use of small spaces Moving parts draw on the wealth of engineering technology taken from fields as diverse as yacht and automotive design, and the mechanics of stage production, allowing the transformation of a 40 square-metre space (the size of a studio or one bedroom apartment) into what feels like a much bigger home.


We’re looking for a research assistant

Small Housing BC is looking for a Research Assistant to assist us with our Natural Capital and Urban Intensification Project.

Research Assistant Position

The Research Assistant will work on a project to identify “small home” development options for densifying three specific single-family neighbourhoods in North Surrey, in ways that are acceptable to existing neighbours while maintaining and enhancing the natural features unique to each area. The work will be done in consultation with planners and environmental specialists at the City of Surrey as well as experts within Small Housing BC.

The details of the position are in the pdf link above.

Please send a cover letter and curriculum vitae to before September 14th, 2015.

In the subject line please put “Research Assistant”.


Understanding the Potential of Small Scale Community Led Housing Report

An interesting report written by Jo Gooding and Tom Johnston called Understanding the Potential of Small Scale Community Led Housing and released earlier this year examines the community led housing and highlights good examples of how these are socially sustainable forms of development:

“Housing – and the provision of housing – is a key issue facing the nation. There is nothing new about community led housing; Almshouses, Housing Co-operatives and charitable trusts have been delivering housing that meets local needs for many years. Community ownership has the potential to empower communities and to deliver projects that people care about, and that support the wider regeneration of an area. The objective of this report is to examine the community led housing sector and to draw out examples of how community led housing projects operate as sustainable forms of social and community enterprise. It is hoped that, by presenting this evidence, other new community housing projects, and their enabling partners, will have the confidence to deliver new community led housing solutions tailored to their own communities.”

Well worth the read.


PRESS: What ‘Invisible’ Money Adds to Vancouver Home Prices

A new Tyee Series by Katie Hyslop is attempting to uncover the why Vancouver is so unaffordable recently launched and has some interesting insights. The first part includes some interesting comparisons across a variety of cities. Be sure to scroll through the headline images comparing housing and prices across certain municipalities!

“Despite other commonalities, Portland has three times the space of Vancouver to house the same number of people. At 5,569 people per square kilometre, Vancouver is closer to Boston-level density than Portland’s 1,790 people per square kilometre.

Yet Vancouver’s median house price is still $156,000 higher than Boston’s at $564,477. Boston’s households have more to spend, too: their median annual income is $74,000-$20,000, or 37 per cent, higher than Vancouverites.

Curiously, despite a median housing price barely above half of Vancouver’s, Portland isn’t building or selling nearly as many homes. In fact, of the 14 cities we looked at, only Denver came close to Vancouver’s 10,000-plus home sales in 2014.

Where is the purchasing power coming from to add roughly 75 per cent to Vancouver house prices compared to its most similar North American twin? Call that Vancouver’s $300,000-per-family question.”

Read more here.


Tiny Homes in Nanaimo BC – Rewild Homes

Over the past few months, we’ve received an increasing number of questions around tiny homes and their local availability. So, I’m sure many of you will be interested in Rewild Homes, a company based out of Nanaimo that builds custom tiny homes on trailers. According to their website, Rewild Homes:

started to fill a niche and support a movement of living simply, using less, and doing more. Our compact, high-quality, portable cabins are built on Vancouver Island using locally sourced materials. We are simple, sustainable, and specialized.

The great new spot below (also on their website) also gives more insight into the company:

So, for those of you in and around Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland interested in tiny homes, this is a great local resource.




PRESS: A Foot in the Door: An Unaffordable Country’s Next Steps

At the Tyee, a piece describing the affordability crisis across Canada and paths to affordability. Housing choices for all ages is critical:

The wide range of housing experiences suggests that solving Canada’s shelter crisis will take a similarly broad range of responses from across society.

The fears and expectations that estrange LGBTQ2S youth from their families have deep and tangled roots difficult for public policies to address. Targeting rent subsidies to this vulnerable group might be a lot easier.

The burdensome economic legacy of historic subjection can’t be lifted overnight from today’s young native professionals and off-reserve First Nations. But a much broader interpretation of settler society’s responsibilities to indigenous people — sparked by a process of truth and reconciliation and going beyond narrow legalistic reading of treaties — might open many new doors.

Whether as empty-nesters, active elders, or confronting frailty, Canada’s growing number of households and individuals over 65 face adjustments to their own housing needs that will also influence the stock of existing shelter available for new occupants. Cities re-designed to be friendlier to 80-year-olds turn out also to have features that are just as welcoming to eight-year-olds and their young families.

In short, an adequate response to the full scale and variety of Canada’s housing crises will have lots of rooms, plenty of doorways and probably a grab-bag of styles.

Read more here.


Tiny Home Co-Housing British Columbia

Hot-off-the-press, Tiny Home Co-Housing British Columbia is an organization out of Vancouver that just started a Meetup blog two weeks ago. They are having an upcoming launch event on August 18th – the place has yet to be determined. Here is a write-up of who they are:

The first active group Working Towards tiny homes co-housing. The goal is to gather like minded individuals, all with a skill sets from engineering to gardening, who truly are interested in building their own tiny home in the next 5 years – by 2020. The land will be owned by the co-housing, will be made up of the tiny home owners, living in a community that is sustainable, self-supported and willing to share with other communities successes of the tiny home living.

Exciting times for those interested in both tiny homes and co-housing!

You can read more here.


PRESS: HALA and the $100,000 Question

Over at Sightline’s Daily – and related to last week’s post – Alan Durning discusses the recently released Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) committee plan for Seattle:

“The crux of the HALA plan is to allow much more housing construction while also requiring developers to build—and raising taxes to pay for nonprofits to build—at least three times as many apartments per year affordable to low-income people.

The plan unleashes the private housing market by changing zoning, parking, and building rules and streamlining the processes the city uses for permitting and for environmental and historic preservation reviews—processes that NIMBYs have perverted from their true purpose into means of stopping construction. It includes many of Sightline’s past recommendations on parking (parking benefit districts and parking “cap-and-trade,” for example) and housing (more backyard cottages and in-law apartments, more neo-rooming houses, and fewer restrictions on shared housing).

It also includes many other strategies that complement and expand them: extending the boundaries of urban villages (designated growth zones, where taller buildings are paired with frequent transit, parks, and shops); updating antiquated fire codes that have kept buildings shorter because hook-and-ladder companies once couldn’t reach any higher; adding subsidized housing around parks and reservoirs and above the parking lots of high schools and community centers; and more. These strategies for compact growth should win accolades from urbanists and sprawl fighters. They deserve rhapsodies from climate hawks, because density may be the most important part of beyond-carbon living.”

Read more here.