November 1, 2018

Comparative Ambitions: Housing Targets in London and Vancouver


Mayor agrees £1 billion plan to build 11,000 new council homes

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has … plans worth more than £1 billion with 26 London boroughs to build 11,000 new council homes at social rent levels over the next four years.

The plans form the cornerstone of ‘Building Council Homes for Londoners’ – the first-ever City Hall programme dedicated to council homebuilding. 

When Sadiq launched the programme in May, it set a target for 10,000 new homes – and today he has responded to overwhelming interest from boroughs by agreeing allocations for 11,154 new council homes at social rent levels, and a further 3,570 other homes, including those for London Living Rent. …


From the Mayor of Vancouver (via Global News):

Vancouver’s new mayor is laying out a plan to make good on his election promise to build 85,000 new homes over the next decade.

Kennedy Stewart’s first priority is to tee up 25,000 affordable rentals, run by non-profits on city-owned land.


London population: 8.7 million.  Affordable homes per year: 3,681.

Vancouver population: 630,000.  Affordable homes per year: 2,500.

Place your bets.

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  1. And in the midst of all this, a study released today showing Millennials really want what their parents did: a single family house somewhere. Multifamily is a compromise forced on them:

    “More than three-quarters (78 per cent) of Metro Vancouver’s young families reported that they would like to own a single-family home if budget was no barrier, with just 22 per cent expressing a preference for an attached home or condo. However, only 46 per cent of young family homeowners said they actually bought a detached house, with 27 per cent buying a townhome, duplex or other attached unit, and 27 per cent a condo.”

    1. Silly premise.

      If budget wasn’t a barrier they’d also want a luxury car, a boat, a recreational property or two and jet off regularly to exotic lands for extended luxury vacations. The question of what they’d want with an unlimited budget is moot. We all make trade offs and compromises to suit reality – most don’t compromise enough if debt levels are an indication.

      “…want what their parents did” is also an idea worth questioning. For one thing, what their parents got was usually much less luxurious than today’s expectations: one car, smaller homes with a single garage (if that), shared bedrooms for kids, fewer and simpler appliances, a tiny fraction of consumer goods all within a much much smaller city with far fewer amenities, entertainment, bars, restaurants and culture.

      Secondly, it is a natural tendency for many people to continue doing what’s already been done. There’s an expectation of doing at least as well as your parents. Change and changing circumstances requires thinking and evaluating. Few have experience growing up in something other than a SFH so that’s what they know and want. But do people really think a townhouse or condo in Manhattan or London is a downgrade from a typical SFH in Vancouver? As cities grow, housing types must necessarily become smaller and tighter.

      If people really want a house in a small town like Vancouver recently was they can move to a small town. But they can’t have expectations of living in a growing city without compromising on housing or suffer long commutes. But then they shouldn’t whine about the commute either.

      1. The survey was of those young families who own real estate but not a SFH, so they would be well aware of what the comparative advantages are.

        1. At almost $800 / ft2 just for the land contained in standard lots following 66 years of exclusionary residential zoning on a geographically constrained supply, SFHs are unaffordable starting just from the basic land purchase. This rendered the SFH on standard lots obsolete back in the oughts.

          Perhaps it’s time to move that dream on to more realistic goals. Build more family housing using less land.

      2. es, those were modest times raising a family of 4, 5, 6 or more on one income (history since the seventies) while buying a house. Don’t forget a job at that living wage or salary for a lifetime, with a proper pension at the end of your career.

        Of course, tuition and living expenses for university used to be financed by a summer job, perhaps supplanted by part time work in the school year. The idea of graduating with tens of thousands in student debt was decades away from today’s sad reality.

        The economy has grown massively since those times, and workers and most of the middle class didn’t see a dime. What greedy times we live in.

  2. My dad supported a family of four on one income in the 60s. That included a new house on a 5,000 ft2 suburban lot. The next generation saw the prices escalate by orders of magnitude without a proportional escalation of incomes, and multi-family living and single detached housing on much smaller lots with three incomes (a basement suite often being the third) became the norm.

    Millennials are three generations from the economic conditions of the 60s and need to adapt accordingly. Planners and architects need to advocate for their needs.

    It’s all evolution.

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