According to a report to council, Mission needs to build more housing every year just to keep its “head above water.” / File Photo

More housing options needed in Mission to fill gaps

New report indicates 298 units a year have to be built just to keep up

Mission needs to build more housing every year just to keep its “head above water,” according to the Housing Needs Assessment (2020-2024) report.

The estimated total number of housing units needed over the next five years is 1,490, or 298 units per year.

Looking at past building permit data shows that on average 165 units have been built each year, resulting in a shortage of units in the community year after year.

Recent changes to provincial legislation require local governments to undertake a Housing Needs Assessment by April 2022, and every five years thereafter.

Mission Mayor Pam Alexis called the new report an “interesting snapshot” of where the district is within the housing realm.

“We want to pursue those gaps that we are painfully aware of in our housing continuum,” she said, adding there is a strong sense of urgency on the matter.

“We have been allowing for the building of single family homes for years and we really didn’t allow for the diversity in the kinds of homes that could be built,” said Alexis.

Council has already begun addressing the issue of higher density, with its recent plans for the Cedar Valley area. As other projects are put forward, there will be a stronger focus to make sure more housing options are created.

According to the report, Mission needs a wider variety of housing stock to meet the community’s needs, including more purpose-built rental apartment units and fewer single family dwellings.

Currently 65.1 per cent of all housing units in Mission are single family dwellings. Suites (basement suites, coach houses and garden cottages) comprise an additional 19.3 per cent of units for a total of 84.4% of all units.

The report indicates Mission needs a wider variety of housing types to meet community needs, including more purpose-built rental apartments.

Some other key findings include:

q Mission needs to act to address the proliferation of unauthorized suites. Approximately 2,610 units in Mission are suites (i.e., basement suites, coach houses and garden cottages). The District estimates approximately 1,950 of those units are unauthorized.

That means approximately 14 per cent of all dwelling units are unauthorized. Many Lower Mainland municipalities have “legalized” the construction of secondary suites.

q The cost of housing in Mission for all household types is going up faster than household incomes. Over the past 10 years, the cost of an average single family dwelling has increased from $405,000 to over $697,000, an increase of over 57 per cent. Official data sources (i.e., CMHC) for rental prices have been mostly unreliable; however, information received through unofficial sources shows a similar trend for rental prices.

In the same 10 year period, the median household income only grew by 16.3 per cent.

q Rental housing availability and affordability emerged as the most significant areas to be addressed. Currently over 95 per cent of units built in Mission in any given year are ownership units, with the remaining five per cent of units being rental units (almost exclusively in the form of secondary suites).

Similar to other municipalities, an insufficient number of rental units has been built in recent decades to accommodate past and future growth.

q There is an acute need for special needs housing, including housing for:

n Women and children who are in crisis, escaping violence and who are at greater risk of being homeless than the general population;

n People with mental, intellectual and/or physical disabilities; and

n Seniors.

Similar to rental housing, an insufficient number of special needs housing units has been built in recent decades to accommodate past and future growth.

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