March 23, 2017 8:38 pm

Could a ‘third housing sector’ help keep the middle class in Vancouver?

WATCH; A former Vancouver city planner is sounding the alarm over the future of affordable housing for the middle class. He predicts that if more efforts are not made to secure housing, the socioeconomic group could be squeezed out of the city in less than two decades. Nadia Stewart explains.

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It’s no secret that stagnant wages and sky-high housing costs have made living in Vancouver a tough proposition for many.

One real estate expert suggest more needs to be developed to help middle-income earners, a group that is feeling squeezed out of both the city’s housing and rental markets. One possible solution is a so-called “third housing sector,” which would consist of partnerships between the public sector, private developers, non-profits and other community stakeholders.

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“It would be great if 20 per cent of the housing in a city was created not by government, not by private developers, but by what we’re calling the third sector,” architect Michael Geller said.

READ MORE: Commercial real estate sales spike in B.C.

The redevelopment of the Oakridge Lutheran Church is a project that experts like Geller say the city needs more of. The mixed-use building will be home to a community space, church and 46 affordable rental units.

“We’re trying to deliver as much affordability as possible, but if we do make any surplus revenue, we simply recycle and reinvest that back into providing more affordable housing,” said Robert Brown, president of Catalyst Community Developments Society.

Brown added that the city’s dwindling Vancouver middle class already face many tough choices and if things don’t change “we will see a real erosion of the fabric of our community.”

Former city planner Larry Beasley said not taking action about the city’s housing market will have dire consequences down the road.

“This is a big issue now,” he said. “But even for your children it is going to be a phenomenal issue and they will face stark choices that not even you have faced.”

– With files from Nadia Stewart

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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