In the midst of a city-wide housing crisis, the MVHC board has passed a proposal to demolish Heather Place, a site currently housing around 80 families and numerous individuals with disabilities. The MVHC is seeking to rezone the site, using tenant rent revenue to pay for the $500,000 rezoning bill. The 86 units of affordable housing are at risk of being swallowed and transformed into market-rate units, making them unaffordable to the current tenants.
The MVHC has only committed to keeping the fully subsidized tenants–about one third of all units at Heather Place–housed in the new units. This means that over 55 affordable housing units will be lost forever. Two thirds of all housing at Heather Place, housing up to 200 people, will not be replaced with affordable units.
Why would MVHC decrease affordable housing at a time when social housing is needed more than ever? Why would MVHC evict and displace over 55 low-income families? It is not too late to stop this from happening. With the effort of the entire community, together united with the tenants of Heather Place, we can reverse this top-down decision to demolish 86 units of affordable housing.
The Vancouver Renters’ Union has taken a stand against the demolition and redevelopment of Heather Place.
We join the residents of Heather Place in demanding that Heather Place be properly maintained–not demolished. Here are three reasons why:
1) Rent should be used for repair and maintenance of the existing buildings.
Renovation will be far less costly that demolition. In the Heather Place re-development Rezoning Application, the MVHC board noted that “repairs would be in the 6-8 million dollar range.” Redevelopment will cost around $30 million, according to MVHC Manager Don Littleford.
Heather Place is in comparable condition to other MVHC housing projects prior to their repair. The difference here, as Littleford told tenants, is that Heather Place is located on highly valuable land. As the Independent Residents of Heather Place told the MVHC Board, “We believe that our representatives are elected to govern, not to engage in real estate speculation.”
2) Right now, the rent at Heather Place is affordable. After demolition and redevelopment, the rent will be unaffordable for modest- and low-income people.
If the proposed redevelopment of Heather Place goes ahead as planned, monthly rents will increase to market-rates of $1250 for a 1br unit, $1700 for a 2br unit, and $2,100 per month for a three bedroom unit. MVHC’s plan will decrease by 70% the amount of non-market housing at Heather Place.
3) The demolition will displace dozens of families and individuals, forcing them into a severely unaffordable rental market.
MVHC is offering tenants the “first right of refusal” for new units but this is meaningless since tenants will not be able to afford the new rents. Because this demolition has been hanging over the heads of tenants for years now as a constant threat and cause of stress, numerous tenants have already decided to leave Heather Place. Tenants informed the Board of MVHC that, “Heather Place has been the stalwart for many families without which dire poverty will be the only option if that can be considered a choice at all.”
Recent articles about Heather Place:
“ Heather Place Tenants Deserve a Better Deal, Tim Louis (December 10, 2012)
“ Heather Place Tenants Wait in Limbo, Georgia Straight (December 5, 2012)
“The Arrogance of Profit: Metro Vancouver’s Redevelopment Proposal for Heather Place,” The Mainlander (August 20, 2012)
“Tenants fear redevelopment of Heather Place,” Georgia Straight (July 5, 2012)