Vancouver sets up agency to tackle housing problems

VANCOUVER, July 6 (Xinhua) -- The Vancouver municipal government set up an agency on Sunday aimed at increasing the stock of affordable rental housing for low-income families in the city.

The city promised to provide 2,500 affordable-housing units in Vancouver and surrounding areas by 2021 through the new Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency.

"This is a new entity that the city will have to really promote and advance affordable housing," city councilor Geoff Meggs said in a statement.

"The agency won't build or hold housing stock, but will facilitate partnerships with the private sector, with non-profits, with city-owned properties to provide affordable housing in the rental market," he added.

He also said the agency will be tasked with streamlining the creation of new rental units for low-income families.

What qualifies as "affordable" housing would be a rental unit that costs no more than 30 percent of household income, he explained.

In a press release, the city said that new agency would provide at least 500 units in the first three years and focus on creating a mix of housing stock, including three-bedroom units, targeted at individuals and families of low to moderate income living and working in Vancouver.

Vancouver, the third largest city in Canada and the biggest in the west coast, sees soaring housing prices these years due to tens of thousands of immigrants settling down here.

Local residents complain about high property prices and urge the government to take action to stabilize the prices.