If you've got an idea of how to make housing more affordable in Vancouver, city officials say they're all ears.

"I think we're almost at the desperation stage," said Randy Pecarski, the City of Vancouver's deputy director of planning. "People are on the verge of leaving the city because they can't find a place to stay."

Pecarski was at a housing conference at the Hillcrest Community Centre on Saturday dubbed the Big Conversation, which was attended by dozens of residents who shared ideas at round tables.

"We've got to turn the tide on affordability," he said.

The city is asking residents to take its latest survey, which will be used to create Housing Vancouver, the city's new 10-year strategy to improve affordability.

The city's goal is to create the types of homes in Vancouver needed to keep people like Sabine Bruyere living here.

She was born and raised in Vancouver, lives at home with her mother and works a minimum wage job.

'Totally frustrated'

"Essentially I have no real hope for the future here," she said at the housing conference. "It's wrong and I'm totally frustrated."

The city's priorities for the new housing strategy are to:

  • Create housing that fits residents' needs.
  • Keep rental housing affordable and increase availability.
  • Build housing on city-owned land.
  • Speed up the process to build affordable housing.
  • Create ways for people to get out of homelessness.

Vincent Liao, a recently arrived international worker, attended the Big Conversation to try and figure out how to make Vancouver home.

He wants to stay, but isn't sure it he can because of housing affordability.

"For me myself alone, I cannot afford it," he said.

On the verge

Others say they can't wait for the city to come up with a yet another plan to try and solve the housing crisis.

"I'm on the verge of getting ready to move out of the city because [of] the high rents [and] the inability to purchase in the future," said Joli Godin.

Earlier this week, the city unveiled plans to build 11,500 homes along the Cambie Corridor that will be comprised of rental housing, townhomes and row houses.

Previous estimates from officials said close to 50,000 new housing units are required in Vancouver by 2026.

With files from Doug Kerr.