Addressing the affordability crisis with 20 Over 5 Housing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

2 October 2014

20 over 5 HousingVANCOUVER — The OneCity team and its City Council candidate, RJ Aquino, are calling for a 20 Over 5 Housing policy to combat the out-of-control costs of living, working and raising a family in Vancouver. Aquino and OneCity say that 20 per cent of the living spaces in all new developments over five units, right across the city, must be be reserved for low- and middle-income people.

With the average family income of renters stuck at around $35,000, the new living spaces being built in Vancouver are simply not affordable for many renters or potential buyers. Vancouver needs more affordable housing, and unlike the Vision-led City Council, Aquino and OneCity are willing to define what affordable means: In all new developments of five living spaces or more, 20 per cent of units must cost no more than 30 per cent of income.

“I know from personal experience, as a young parent raising a family here, that there is a housing crisis in Vancouver. The skyrocketing costs of living in this city are putting pressure on workers, seniors, young people, new immigrants and many others, and they are hurting the local economy as well,” said City Council candidate RJ Aquino. “Right now we have an unbalanced city council that is not hearing or listening to so many voices and communities. OneCity will continue to put forward innovative ideas such as 20 Over 5 Housing that will ease the stress caused by the high cost of living in Vancouver, and we will make sure those ideas and voices are heard at City Hall.”

The 20 Over 5 Housing plan will encourage two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments and homes, built by the developer and then managed by the City’s Housing Authority. There will be no up-front capital costs for the City of Vancouver.

This is the first public piece of a platform that has been researched and created by a OneCity policy team drawn from communities throughout Vancouver. In the coming weeks, Aquino and OneCity will propose additional ideas around affordable housing and child care; giving communities a say in decision making at City Hall; transit and climate justice; and job creation and the local economy.

Find Out More:

Watch and share the OneCity 20 Over 5 Housing video:

Media Contact:

Scott Colbourne, OneCity Communications Director: 778.679.1110

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Why I'm Running

I live in a one bedroom apartment in East Van with my wife and two young kids. While my wife and I are both professionals with good jobs, the ever-increasing cost of housing in this city and our monthly child-care expenses have kept us in the same apartment for the past 10 years. We’ve learned the ins and outs of Renfrew Collingwood. We’ve gotten to know other families at the park, at Collingwood Neighbourhood House, and in the shops along Kingsway where we pick up groceries. We love our neighbourhood and we care about our neighbours.

What’s troubling, though, is that a lot of these friends have moved out of the neighbourhood and out of the city because it’s hard to raise a family in Vancouver. Whether they move just across Boundary Road to Burnaby, or all the way to Maple Ridge or Calgary, they’re making the difficult decision to uproot and leave behind friends and family to try to have a better life for their children. That’s a decision we don’t want our friends, family, and neighbours to have to make. It’s a decision that we don’t want to be forced to make.
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Vancouver is increasingly becoming two cities: one for the wealthy, and one for the rest of us. We in OneCity are building a political home where young people, working families, new Canadians, marginalized people and older generations can come together, talk about the issues that affect us, and work to make our city a better place.

There is plenty of work to do. Under the Vision City Council our rents are going up, not down, not holding steady. Out of control condo developments undermine the character and diversity of our neighbourhoods. Finding affordable child care is a challenge for many families, including mine. And rising rents are eroding independent retail and industrial spaces, which means that fewer jobs are available, and artistic and cultural sectors are threatened.

We need to stop subsidizing developers and create affordable housing for middle- and low-income residents. We need to support the $10 a day child care plan, and make affordable childcare a priority. Public transit is critical to building a healthy, sustainable city — but a subway project in only one part of it won’t help people whose buses are already at capacity right now. That’s why I’m running for City Council.

I’m also running because I believe we need to do a better job of listening to one another. Council’s current development policies don’t align with what neighbourhoods want. Across the City — in Marpole and Grandview Woodlands and the West End and the Downtown Eastside and Oakridge and Mount Pleasant — people are frustrated and angry with City Council. Of course the city needs to grow, but it needs to do so through genuine community engagement. We need to be able to have difficult conversations, to compromise, and to listen. And we need a City Council that supports and facilitates that process respectfully.

I’m running because I can imagine a city where democracy isn’t just a slick marketing exercise, and where our shared values of community, collaboration, creativity, and respect are expressed in the actions of our elected officials.

I can imagine a city strengthened and united by equity, affordability, and diversity, where young people can find jobs that provide a living wage so they can plant their roots here.

I know I’m not alone when I say I’m frustrated by what I’ve seen happen in the last few years in Vancouver. Are we better off than we were six years ago? Have we made progress in addressing the affordability crisis? Or homelessness? Is it easier for young people and families to make a home in this city? For my family, the people in my community, the answer to those questions is no. Are things getting harder for you, not easier — for your children, for your friends and neighbours? Then perhaps you share my frustrations.

I believe there is something special happening right now in municipal politics. We named our party OneCity because we believe in one Vancouver, for everyone. I believe there are thousands across all parts of our city who share my concerns and who want better. If we join together, we can make a change. Join us.

-RJ Aquino

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OneCity calls on Liberals to Arbitrate

backtoschool.JPGCity Council candidate RJ Aquino released the following statement this morning on behalf of OneCity.

Today, teachers around the province are taking a vote. With this vote, they will tell the Premier once again that they want to go back to work, back to the students whose lives and educations are so important.

What they won’t do, however, is agree to give away their Charter rights. They will not resign themselves to classrooms getting bigger, to students receiving fewer supports.

Today, teachers will make sure the Premier knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that their job action is a commitment to their students and to our community as a whole. Throughout this dispute they have advocated for the compensation they deserve, but more important they have fought for improved education services for every child in British Columbia.

I am a father of two children. In just a few years, both will be enrolled in public school. What happens between the government and teachers matters to me. I stand with our teachers. OneCity stands with our teachers. OneCity calls on the provincial government to agree to binding arbitration with the BCTF in order to end the dispute and to get children back to school.

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OneCity Supports a Living Wage in Vancouver

OneCity endorsed the Living Wage for Families Campaign today and is calling on the City of Vancouver to become a certified Living Wage employer – and encourage other employers to become certified.

"The City of Vancouver can make a real difference in people’s lives by becoming a Living Wage employer and working with the business community to follow suit," said city council candidate RJ Aquino. "That is why OneCity is endorsing the Living Wage for Families Campaign."

The current living wage rate for metro Vancouver is $20.10/hour, which is the hourly amount a two-parent family needs to cover basic expenses and avoid poverty.

As in New Westminster, becoming a certified Living Wage employer would mean that the City of Vancouver must pay their workers, including contractors and subcontractors working in City facilities, the Living Wage or better. Vancouver should also follow the lead of Burnaby and North Vancouver by adopting a "fair wage" policy for City construction projects, ensuring these worker are paid no less than the prevailing union rate.

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