Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

Just been gandering the Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy draft — a slightly surreal publication that appears to have confused itself with an ad for tourism rather than the “habitable” city. These odd lush photos of bright blue days, and people milling in these bright blue lives. Everything is just a bit too darn good-looking.

The illustrations designed to draw you away from the text, which provides little insight into how any of this growth will be actualized or strategized. Item 4.1 a single page dedicated to Affordable Housing strategy is basically a bunch of paragraphs that tell us nothing, other than reminded me a unit or two of housing could have been built off the proceeds of this graphic design pamphlet budget. But the part that seemed plain bonkers was on the next page (so essentially the same viewing page if you’re looking online or close enough to confuse…) is a photograph of are brand new million dollar houses beside 16th and Cambie!  It seemed to infer by its proximity the kind of delusion that is the very reason we have so little affordable housing.

The marvelous thing about affordable housing is sustaining it once you’ve built it and there’s never any strategy on that. Housing Co-ops increasingly cannot house the people they are intended for and who have barriers to housing due to onerous policies from CHMC, so in essence they’ve become a place where double income people go and live, to save for an astonishing down payment on an astonishing mortgage. The theory of mixed housing works well, until you’re in a room with people saving for a mortgage who have very little invested in where they are and will vote to increase rents for the most vulnerable residents who will actually be there once the others have exited to astonishing mortgage and barbecue land.

You could say there are two types of barriers now: barriers to housing full stop and barriers to a down payment. Unfortunately one has higher needs over the other and tends to last a great deal longer and leaves people on the street. The other is a pain of its own, but you don’t die from exposure as a result of it.

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