BRice Apartment Complex for Low-Moderate Income Residents Opens on Kingsway

The City of Vancouver eyes a 10-year strategic plan for combatting the housing crisis

The BRice is named in honour of Bonnie Rice, who used to work for the Sanford Housing Society, and was deeply involved with the project (Ashley Hyshka)

Vancouver’s first housing complex built as part of a long-term land trust opened at 1720 Kingsway on Oct. 22. The BRice building, as it is named, will offer 48 homes to families with low to moderate incomes at an affordable rate.

Abigail Bond, the Director of Housing Policy and Projects with the City of Vancouver, explains that the building is the city’s latest effort to address the ever-worsening housing crisis.

“We’ve been opening many similar projects like this over the last little while,” says Bond. “This isn’t the first building of its kind and it’s not going to be the last either.”

In order to qualify for a unit in the BRice building, the annual income of potential tenants must average between $49,999 and $69,500. Once living there, they will not pay more than 30 per cent of this figure.

The building is managed by the Sanford Housing Society. Its website explains that “rents for most apartments will be $1,250/month. There are three larger apartments with rents of $1,435/month.”

The land trust that led to the creation of the building represents a partnership between Vancouver, the Community Land Trust Foundation, the non-profit sector, and the provincial government.

“We look forward to more partnerships like this, and being able to help more [low] and moderate-income people in Vancouver who are really facing the crunch in relation to that affordable housing crisis,” says Bond.

The building is named in honour of Bonnie Rice, a retired staffer from the Sanford Housing Society who, according to Metro News, was “closely involved in setting up the complicated land deal between many nonprofit and government players.”

The city begun seeking partnerships for this project back in 2012. Bond says that Vancouver had four separate sites across the city which were put to market in the hope of getting partnerships with the non-profit sector to help construct new units. The BRice building is the first of those sites to be developed, with three others currently under development.

According to Bond, the city has about 1,000 similar units which will open before the end of 2018. She adds that the city approves between 500-600 additional units each year.

“Vancouver is facing an unprecedented housing crisis,” she says. “And so, one building is not going to solve that crisis.”

The municipal government is enhancing efforts and eyeing new partnerships, policies, and investments to accomplish this long-term goal of combatting Vancouver’s lack of affordable housing.

Bond says that Vancouver’s current housing strategy, which was implemented in 2012, is about halfway to meeting its long-term target of adding 5,000 social housing units similar to The BRice over the next 10 years.

However, the city is now hoping to increase that number to 12,000, which is in the new housing strategy and will be brought forth to Vancouver City Council by the end of November.

She says that, over the next 10 years, the target is for 72,000 new homes to be added across Vancouver.

“It takes all levels of government, including the federal government and the provincial and the municipal government, plus the private and the non-profit sector to really make an impact on the housing crisis,” says Bond.

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