Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Study

Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Study 2017

In 2017, Metro Vancouver and several partners completed a study to expand the region's understanding of the constraints and opportunities related to building new rental housing, particularly housing affordable to households earning less than $50,000 per year, in transit-oriented locations across the region.

The Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Study builds on two key recent regional initiatives by Metro Vancouver- the Regional Affordable Housing Strategy and the Housing and Transportation Cost Burden Study - which describe the region's rental housing needs and the high household burden many renters face with housing and transportation costs.

The study partners include the BC Non Profit Housing Association, BC Housing, TransLink, Vancity, and Metro Vancouver. Though not a study partner, the Real Estate Foundation of BC provided a grant to support a portion of the study.

Key Findings

  • Demand for rental housing, particularly housing affordable* to households earning less than $50,000 per year, is not being met across the region.
  • Renter households, especially those earning less than $50,000, are more likely to use transit. Increased ridership means a higher return on investment in transportation. Access to frequent transit reduces transportation costs and improves access to services and employment.
  • The primary reason new affordable housing is undersupplied is because the rents generated do not cover the costs of development (land and construction). The challenges are amplified in transit-oriented locations, where higher density expectations increase land costs.
  • There are innovative ways to approach land and construction costs, but even with these it remains very challenging to make new affordable rental housing financially viable.
  • Initiatives in other jurisdictions may be worth exploring in the Metro Vancouver region to generate new affordable rental housing near frequent transit.

* where 'affordable housing' is typically defined as housing that costs less than 30% of a household's pre-tax income. By this definition, a household earning $50,000 can afford up to about $1,300 rent per month.

Study Activity Reports

Activity 1 – Review current and innovative practices used in North America (Canada and the U.S.A.) that encourage new affordable rental housing near transit.  The report also projects a regional rental housing supply gap.  

Activity 2 – Investigate whether rental or ownership tenure, and income level, relate to transit ridership.

Activity 3 – Develop an inventory of lands under public or non-profit ownership in transit-oriented locations. This activity is in progress, with completion expected in 2018.

Activity 4- Explore the financial challenges to developing rental housing, and specifically affordable rental housing, in transit-oriented location, and identifies financial and policy tools available to narrow  the affordability gap.

Activity 5 – share key findings and report details to agencies engaged in planning, financing, and developing affordable rental housing in Metro Vancouver

Contact Us

  • For information, contact

    Raymond Kan, Metro Vancouver, Regional Planning