Selling Vancouver social housing buildings a ‘big mistake’: NDP MLA

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Jennifer Gauthier/Metro Nicholson Towers, on 1115 Nelson Street, is one of two Vancouver social housing building being sold by BC Housing.

By Matt KieltykaMetro

An opposition MLA is preparing a final push to prevent the government from making “a big mistake” in selling two Vancouver social housing buildings.

Last year, BC Housing put out a request for expressions of interest (REOI) on Nicholson Towers in the West End and Stamps Place in Strathcona with the intention of selling off nearly 600 units of subsidized housing to a non-profit housing provider.

Vancouver-West End NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert says he’s been lobbying housing minister Rich Coleman to reverse the decision to no avail.

He fears deals are imminent and that a provision allowing 50 per cent of the units to be rented out at market rates puts 300 low-income families at risk.

“Affordable housing, particularly low-income housing, is so hard to find in Metro Vancouver, that phasing out 300 low-income units makes the housing crisis even worse,” said Chandra Herbert. “It’s a really bad decision and hopefully it’s not too late to stop the minister from making a big mistake.”

Chandra Herbert is asking for the city’s support, which already wrote to Coleman and Premier Christy Clark in October to put a hold on the sales.

The mayor’s office said Gregor Robertson will meet with the NDP MLA soon, and that the city will continue to voice community concerns to the B.C. government.

Coleman was not available for interview.

BC Housing said the selection process for non-profit housing providers remain ongoing.

Current tenants and their rental agreements will remain in place after the transfer of ownership, the authority says.

The sales are part of BC Housing’s updated strategy of “strengthening the non-profit sector by transferring housing stock to non-profits where appropriate”.