A new 10-Year Faculty Housing Strategy – 2016

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The increasingly high-priced Vancouver housing market presents one of the most significant challenges facing the university as we strive to recruit and retain the very best faculty. Over the last year, the university has been working on re-energizing the existing Faculty Home Ownership Program (FHOP) and related housing supports to expand the housing options for our faculty members.

This spotlight on faculty housing programs has focused on finding ways to strengthen strategic recruiting and retention effectiveness of both the rental program (its appeal, pace of inventory expansion, continued affordability, and timely availability to new recruits arriving from out of town) as well as improved funding and geographic flexibility for the faculty home ownership program.

For more detail on the results of this initiative, and its implementation, please review the following:

Changes to the Faculty Staff Rental Program

The Faculty Staff Rental Program operated for the university by Village Gate Homes, a division of UBC Properties Trust, currently offers more than 450 rental housing units on-campus, at reduced rents, for full-time faculty and staff. All units are fairly new, and have the advantage of being within an easy, scenic walk from the main campus.   However, long waitlists and limited supply can cause delays in accommodating new recruits and their families.

Effective now, there will be intensified efforts to enhance rental options as follows:

  • Expanding supply and accelerating the pace of delivery of new rental units, including an additional 850 units (with approximately 750 units by 2021);
  • Expanding the format and size range of rental inventory, and reviewing design against evolving recruiting needs and preferences;
  • Working with UBC Properties Trust to convert 42 market townhomes (approx.) on-campus for faculty rental in the next two years;
  • Adopting a more strategic approach to managing the rental waitlist for faculty recruiting and retention purposes.

Changes to the Faculty Home Ownership Program

The Faculty Home Ownership Program was originally introduced in 2014 to help make home ownership on the Vancouver campus more affordable for faculty members whose recruitment and retention is determined to be of critical strategic importance to UBC.  The program included a 3-year pilot, 2nd mortgage loan option that offered a limited number of zero annual interest 2nd Mortgage Loans up to 33% of the home purchase price ($330,000 maximum) in specified new market projects on campus. The program also included a supplementary forgivable Down Payment Assistance loan option or a Mortgage Interest Assistance loan option.  While the DPA program remains popular, the 2nd Mortgage Loan program was not as effective since the price of homes on-campus rose out of reach and faculty expressed a strong preference for more geographically flexible loan options.

Effective now, there will be intensified efforts to enhance ownership support options as follows:

  • Maintaining the Down Payment Assistance Program for existing eligible faculty and increasing the program from $45k to $50k for eligible faculty hired after June 30, 2017;
  • Creating a $10 million fund for housing loans to faculty members;
  • Replacing the 2nd Mortgage Loan pilot with a new more flexible Prescribed Interest Rate Loan (PIRL) loan option to support a home purchase anywhere in the Lower Mainland. PIRL loans will provide selected and approved faculty members with a 15-year loan term and a low-interest rate (CRA).
  • Continued and ongoing research to identify other measures that may facilitate affordable housing improvements.


For more detail on the background leading to this strategy, please explore the following resources:


No one solution can meet all faculty member or recruiter preferences, therefore a diversified menu of rental and ownership support options is key, and can be further expanded as needed over time. The university remains committed to ongoing research into other faculty ownership or equity building options on-campus. The options would need to consider the appropriate financial limitations, and be in accordance with program sustainability and tax efficiency objectives, and strategic recruiting and retention priorities.