Vancouver set a record in 2012 for permits for new rental units after years of slow rental construction and low vacancy rates, says the city.

More than 1,000 new rental units were approved for construction in 2012, after an average of 328 in 2010 and 2011 and none in the two years before that, said the city in a news release on Sunday.

About 600 of the new units come from 800 Griffiths Way, the second largest rental housing development in Vancouver's history.

The city has been trying to address the lack of affordable housing by pushing for more rental units.

Permits for laneway houses reached 350 in 2012, up from an average of 146 from 2009-2011. Permits for new secondary suites were also up slightly from previous years.

Vacancy rates in Vancouver remain much lower than the three to four per cent that's considered to be a "healthy" rental market that gives renters enough choice, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

"A lack of affordable housing is bad for the livability of our neighbourhoods, increases commute times, and puts a strain on our local economy. That’s why we’re committed to getting new rental housing built," said Mayor Gregor Robertson.

However, Jean Swanson with the Carnegie Community Action Project told News 1130 the new rentals don't help people on welfare and pensions.

"The people who are the poorest can’t afford those apartments. For example, a single person on welfare gets $610 a month in total for everything. So probably the rents in these new places are more than $610 altogether, probably $900 or $1,000," she said.

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