COQUITLAM, B.C., Feb. 11, 2021 – The City of Coquitlam has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with BC Housing in an innovative partnership to support the creation of more below-market rental housing in the community.
With more than 60 per cent of Coquitlam’s existing purpose-built rental stock constructed between 1968 and 1971, the City adopted a Housing Affordability Strategy in 2015 to create a made-in-Coquitlam approach.
To date, there has been an increase in rental units overall, including success in securing partnerships (and senior government funding) to deliver non-market rental housing, which is typically managed by non-profit operators who bring expertise in serving low- to moderate-income households.
This new agreement aims to encourage the creation of more below-market rental (rented at least 20% below market rates) while addressing operational challenges for developers around ongoing property management, tenant selection and income testing to meet affordability requirements.
This agreement will bring together the strong incentives in Coquitlam’s Housing Affordability Strategy with the experience of BC Housing to address a critical housing need in the community. BC Housing intends to formally sign the agreement in the coming weeks.
Leveraging the Right Expertise
This new agreement allows developers to include below-market rental units in their proposals while leveraging the expertise and mandate of BC Housing to select tenants and operate the housing. Under the new model:
- The private developer will continue to own the below-market units (which improves financing).
- The below-market units are leased to BC Housing for 60 years, with BC Housing taking on the administrative responsibilities for the below-market tenants. This includes tenant selection and income testing.
- These units will rent for at least 20 per cent below market rates for 60 years and will be available to moderate-income households.
Coquitlam as a Regional Housing Leader
Coquitlam’s Housing Affordability Strategy (HAS) is unique within the Metro Vancouver region. Through rental incentives in the HAS, there are currently over 5,500 new units of purpose-built rental and nearly 1,100 units of below-market and non-market rental in the development process.
The HAS is built on thoughtful and measured policy direction which allows the City to work within its municipal role and mandate on affordable housing, while leveraging strong partnerships with the development sector or senior levels of government.
It leverages the momentum of development through:
- Density incentives provided to developers to create rental units, and
- Density bonus payments to the Affordable Housing Reserve Fund from those development applications taking advantage of the City’s density bonus system.
One of the cornerstones of the HAS is the Affordable Housing Reserve Fund (AHRF), which acts as the key funding mechanism for affordable housing projects by leveraging a portion of density bonus contributions from development towards potential affordable housing options.
Over the past five years the City has granted $9.9 million through the AHRF to support the creation of 378 non-market and below-market rental units.
The City has also committed two parcels of land, which it will provide, at a nominal lease, to non-profit housing providers in order to create affordable housing.
About Coquitlam’s Housing Affordability Strategy
Coquitlam’s Housing Affordability Strategy was adopted by City Council in December 2015 to broaden the variety of housing types, sizes, prices and ownership in the city. Information about the Strategy, including the AHRF including qualification criteria is available at www.coquitlam.ca/housing.
Manager, Community Planning