ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT

                                           Date: February 4, 1997
                                           Dept. File No. 3308
                                           C.C. File No. 4656-1

   TO:            Vancouver City Council

   FROM:          Manager of the Housing Centre

   SUBJECT:       Low-Income Housing in the Downtown, 1996 Survey


        The General Manager submits this report for INFORMATION.


   Council policy is to maintain, upgrade, and increase the stock of
   low-income housing in the downtown.  Council has instructed the Housing
   Centre to monitor the core-need stock in the area on a regular basis. 


   The purpose of this report is to provide Council with the document
   titled "1996 Survey of Low-Income Housing in the Downtown Core",
   detailing the results of the 1996 survey, attached as Appendix A.*


   In October 1989, Council resolved that the City adopt the objective of
   "... maintaining, upgrading, and increasing the existing stock of
   core-need housing in the Downtown".  In May 1991, when dealing with
   housing strategies for Downtown South, Council instructed the Housing
   Centre to monitor core-need housing in the Downtown South on a periodic
   basis.  Council also re-affirmed their policy of one-to-one replacement
   of single room occupancy (SRO) units in Downtown South. 

   The attached report is the third report by the Housing Centre monitoring
   changes to the stock of low-income housing in the Downtown Core; an area
   extending from Burrard Street to Clark Drive and from the waterfront
   south to Terminal Avenue.  The 1994 report was submitted to Council in
   June 1994.  The attached report presents the results of the 1996 survey
   of SRO housing and brings together information from other sources on
   special needs residential facilities (SNRFs) and non-market housing. 

   *Limited distribution - on file at the City Clerk's office

   SRO housing is the cheapest form of rental housing provided by the
   market.  Typically, a SRO unit consists of one room about ten by ten
   feet, with shared bathrooms and minimal if any cooking facilities.  Even
   though rents are relatively low, most SRO occupants pay substantially
   more than 30% of their income for housing.  Although SRO units are small
   and rarely achieve more than basic physical quality standards, it is
   important to retain SRO stock until more adequate housing is available. 

   While SRO units are low-income housing by default, non-market units are
   low-income housing by design.  Non-market housing is usually subsidized
   by senior governments to accommodate core-need households, at rents
   fixed at 30% of income.  

   SNRFs provide housing combined with services to those with special needs
   - the frail elderly, those with physical, psychological, or substance
   abuse problems, and those needing emergency shelter.  These groups often
   have low incomes as well. 


   As of June 1996, there were just under 13,200 low-income units in the
   Downtown Core.  Over three-quarters of the units are in the Downtown
   Eastside/Chinatown/ Gastown/Strathcona area.  More than 50% of the units
   are in SRO buildings, and over a third of these units are in buildings
   with pubs (residential hotels).  Non-market housing makes up just over a
   third of the low-income stock, and SNRFs account for the remaining

   Previous Downtown Core surveys found relatively low rates of SRO loss,
   with these losses more than offset by increases in the non-market
   housing stock. The total low-income stock increased by 1% between
   January 1991 and September 1992 and by 2.8% between September 1992 and
   April 1994.

   The current report states that between April 1994 and June 1996, the SRO
   rate of loss increased over previous years to 1.6%, mainly as the result
   of the conversion of the Patricia Hotel to tourist use.  The number of
   non-market units actually declined by 1%, as only one project was
   completed during the period and this was too small to offset the loss of
   the YWCA s former non-market project on Burrard.  The number of SNRF
   beds also fell by 1%.  Consequently, the total low-income stock
   experienced a decline of 215 units, or 1.6%. 

   However, the decline over the last two years is relatively small, and
   over the longer period of January 1991 to June 1996, there was an
   overall increase of 1.9% in total stock.  The two projects where the
   main loss of units occurred in the last two years - the Patricia Hotel
   and the YWCA - had long provided tourist accommodation as well as longer
   term housing.

   There are currently ten non-market projects with 728 units under
   construction or being planned for the Downtown Core that will increase
   the non-market stock by 15 % over the next two years.  All but one of
   these projects are on land leased from the City 

   The overall SRO vacancy rate in June 1996 was 13 %, compared with 12 %
   in 1994 and 14% in 1992.  Vacancy rates ranged from 7 % in the Downtown
   South and Victory Square sub-areas to 16 % in the rest of the Downtown
   Eastside/Chinatown/Gastown/Strathcona area.  Differences in maintenance
   levels, management styles, and rent levels mean that it is not
   appropriate to compare SRO vacancy rates to those for the conventional
   apartment stock.  The average monthly rent for SRO units in the Downtown
   Core was $336, ranging from an average of $330 in the rest of the
   Downtown Eastside/Chinatown/Gastown/Strathcona area to $355 in Downtown

   While the shelter component of social assistance ($325)  tends to limit
   rent increases, in June 1996 only 52 % of SRO units rented for $325 a
   month or less, compared to 72 % in 1992.  Partial data on changes in
   monthly rents indicate that the average increase in rents between April
   1994 and June 1996 was 2.7 %, with higher than average increases in the
   Victory Square and Downtown South areas

   The Downtown Eastside/Chinatown/Gastown/Strathcona housing plan process
   that is currently underway will address many of the issues confronting
   the low-income housing stock.  A draft plan will be presented to Council
   this summer.  Staff are also working on a related project on ways to
   regulate the conversion of SROs to tourists hotels.

                          *    *      *      *     *