Excerpt: Asked how so many homes for high-income earners counted as social housing, Dan Garrison, Vancouver’s assistant director of housing policy, explained in a recent interview how it works: a building counts as “social housing” if it is owned and operated by a government or non-profit society and at least 30 per cent of the units are rented to households with incomes below limits set by B.C. Housing — which currently stand at $41,500 for a bachelor suite, and $58,000 (from two income-earners) for a two-bedroom.
But the remaining 70 per cent of the building’s units can be rented to households with moderate incomes, and every one of them still count toward the city’s tally of “social housing.” That includes housing geared toward household incomes upward of $100,000, which would be double the median household income for Vancouver renters (the median renter household income is $50,250, and the city-wide median is $65,423).
B.C. Housing’s moderate income limits mean that to qualify for a two-bedroom apartment, you could earn as much as $107,000, explained Garrison. That means an “affordable” rent would be $2,675 a month. The upper income limit for a “social housing” studio apartment is $71,000, Garrison said, meaning rent could be $1,700 a month.
Because all these units are classified as “social housing” — even the ones only affordable for households earning well above median incomes — the buildings are exempt from development cost levies, fees that the city typically charges developers to pay for facilities made necessary by urban growth, such as engineering infrastructure and child care.