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Vancouver’s chief housing officer Mukhtar Latif fired

Vancouver city manager Sadhu Johnston says chief housing office Mukhtar Latif is no longer at the city after leadership shift.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and former Chief Housing Officer Mukhtar Latif at a housing announcement in May 2016.

Matt Kieltyka/Metro

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and former Chief Housing Officer Mukhtar Latif at a housing announcement in May 2016.

Vancouver’s chief housing officer is no longer at the city.

City manager Sadhu Johnston released a statement Tuesday saying that the city “has made a change to how it implements affordable housing and, therefore, has terminated Mukhtar Latif’s roles as chief housing officer and CEO of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency.

Latif, a housing and development consultant from the U.K. with both public and private-sector experience, was hired in 2013 to be the city’s first chief housing officer.

Under his watch, the city pushed ahead with a number of social housing projects, sometimes taking on the full cost when provincial and federal funding was unavailable.

The city’s statements credit Latif with getting 1,000 units of affordable housing under development and bringing forward innovative building solutions like modular housing.

“To ensure that housing is co-ordinated and is top of mind for senior leaders within city government, we have also established a Housing Leadership Table, which I chair. Though this venue, all major housing intiatives are vetted and prioritizes to ensure progess is made throughout the organization,” Johnston said in the statement. “As part of that transition, Mukhtar Latif … is no longer with the City of Vancouver, nor CEO of VAHA.”

VAHA senior planner Luke Harrison has been named interim CEO of the agency.

In his statement, Johnston says VAHA “remains a major delivery agent to get affordable housing on the ground in the city.”

At least one opposition city councillor laments the agency’s role after Latif’s departure.

“I’ve never been a supporter of VAHA,” said Non-Partisan Association Coun. George Affleck. “I felt it was an opaque, bureaucratic structure without any council oversight and no council representation on the board of directors, with millions of dollars of operational costs. I want to dismantle VAHA, take the millions of dollars that are used for administration and put that into housing or lowering taxes to make Vancouver more affordable.”

Affleck said much of the affordable housing built by the city under Vision Vancouver is not “truly affordable.”

“That’s not affordable housing, that’s market rental housing,” he said. “With the departure of Mr. Latif, Vision will be pointing fingers at VAHA but, to me, this is just another failure of Vision Vancouver and their inability to build truly affordable housing.”

Neither Mayor Gregor Robertson nor city manager Johnston were made available for interview Tuesday.

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