In Canada, housing is considered affordable if it costs less than 30% of a household’s before-tax income.
The City of Victoria adopted a more specific definition of affordable housing in 2018 which is:
Housing where the price does not exceed 30% of the gross annual household income for very-low income to moderate income households.
The Victoria Housing Strategy Phase Two: 2019-2022 includes Housing Affordability Targets which establish affordability thresholds in Victoria by using the renter’s median household income in Victoria. These targets set income thresholds for affordable or below-market rental housing, and for affordable homeownership housing.
High housing costs in Victoria, make access to housing affordability a challenge for people of different income levels. Victoria’s vacancy rates have hovered near 1% in recent years which is far below healthy rates (anywhere between 3 and 5%). The costs to rent or own your home continue to rise, outpacing local incomes. The most recent Point-in-Time count 2020, estimates that there are at least 1,500 people experiencing homelessness in the Capital Region.
Housing is a human right. The Official Community Plan, 2012 and the Victoria Housing Strategy Phase Two: 2019-2022 contain policies and actions to support the provision of safe, accessible, stable and affordable housing for residents across the city, in all neighbourhoods.
The Housing Continuum
The housing continuum represents the spectrum of housing types available from very low to above moderate-income households, including non-market and private market housing types.
The City’s Role in the Housing Sector
Addressing the housing crisis and making sure there is enough affordable rental housing requires action and partnership across the housing sector, including all levels of government, non-profit housing providers, and private industry.
The City’s primary role is to support affordable housing development in the following ways:
- Steering housing development through regulations, land use planning and policies
- Streamlining development processes and offering incentives to improve housing affordability
- Partnering with housing stakeholders to support non-market housing, including efficient approval processes, Victoria Housing Reserve Fund grants and municipal land leases.
How the City of Victoria Supports Affordable and Non-Market Housing
The City currently provides incentives for non-profit rental projects to support the creation of affordable and non-market rental housing that will help to address the housing crisis in Victoria.
- Application Fee Waivers: Development application fees are waived for affordable non-market housing projects.
- City-Owned Sites for Affordable Housing: The City of Victoria is actively contributing land to affordable housing and several key projects are underway.
- Prioritized and efficient development application processes: Streamlines development application processes for non-market applications.
- Victoria Housing Reserve Fund Contributions: Provides capital grants for the development and retention of affordable housing.
- Inclusionary Housing and Community Amenity Policy: To encourage affordable housing in new multi-unit strata development.
- Parking Reductions: The City of Victoria zoning bylaw reduces the requirement for parking spaces for affordable dwelling units through a legal agreement.
- Considering Process Changes to support affordable rental housing