New interactive map lays bare Vancouver’s affordability crisis

A new interactive map lays bare how serious Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis has become.

The map, created by Jens von Bergmann, co-founder of data analysis and visualization company MountainMath, makes it clear that even an above-average income isn’t enough to get aspiring homebuyers through the front door of a single-family home.

Bergmann mapped the assessed value of every house in the city and then calculated the approximate income required to purchase each home.

“It's not a surprise, but you need a lot of money to buy in,” he told CTV News.

His interactive map suggests that even households bringing in the average Vancouver family income of about $90,000 are effectively shut out of about 60% of the city. The map shows that families in that range can afford a $568,000 home.

Bergmann’s map assumes homebuyers have a 20% down payment, and are willing to spend up to one-third of their income before taxes on a mortgage. The mortgage used for the simulation is for 25 years at 4% interest.

A single-family home on the east side of the city is affordable for those earning around $250,000 annually, while the most affordable homes in the west requires a salary of about $300,000.

“Even at half a million you're still out of character in the majority of the West Side of Vancouver,” Bergmann said.

His interactive map suggests those willing to rent out an existing or newly created suite may be able to buy into the market with incomes of $125,000; however, buyers’ chances of finding such properties are slim.

There are approximately 62,000 households that earn $125,000 per year, Bergmann said, almost equal to the number of single-family homes in Vancouver.

The data has left him wondering why so much of the city is reserved for the wealthy.

On Wednesday, the city council will examine adding hundreds of coach houses each year, and Bergmann has signed up to speak at the meeting.

But Judy Graves, a city council candidate, told CTV News that the move to create more affordable housing is hardly enough.

“Where I think it fails is that the infill housing is still going to be too expensive for the majority of people who rent the properties,” Graves said.

While she said the motion is a step in the right direction, the candidate with OneCity Vancouver said she wants to fund more social housing via a luxury tax. The 1.5% surtax she's proposed on the city's wealthiest residents would be utilized to adjust rents and reform Vancouver neighbourhoods with city-wide inclusionary zoning, which would place affordable housing before luxury developments.
 

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