Affordable Housing and Housing Diversity

What makes a neighbourhood a true community, one that exudes comfort, security, vibrancy
and a sense of belonging? One that welcomes residents and visitors alike as a safe, friendly
and interesting place to be? It is difficult to describe and even tougher to achieve, but surely it is
what most of us want from the places that we live.

First I believe it is important to define “Affordable Housing”.

  • There is government subsidized housing.
  • There is affordable market housing.
  • And finally, there is affordable living which goes beyond the cost of housing and starts to include transportation, taxes, utilities etc.

  • Subsidized Housing –  Generally a provincial and federal responsibility, but I believe municipalities need to play a role too. Municipalities need to show leadership when it comes to housing, and the most innovative solutions will come from the bottom up – from our local housing partners such as Homeland Housing Foundation, which run Northridge Place, North Ridge Lodge, and Chateau Mission Court, the Affordable Housing Society, which run Big Lake Point and many programs, and our developers and homebuilders. As a city, we can help by having land available or offering programs such as our rental assistance program. Inclusive zoning is coming to Alberta which will require some % of new roof tops to be affordable. St. Albert needs to be ready. I also believe we need to work hard to bring permanent supportive housing, which is housing equipped with 24 hours on site wrap around supports services such as health care, counseling for addictions to St. Albert. This type of housing helps avoid millions in health care costs and leads to tangible improvement in the quality of life. We could develop incentives to create more affordable rentals beyond our traditional jurisdictions.You can expect me to champion this locally as your mayor, but this issue urgently requires provincial and federal leadership as well.

 

 

 

  • Market Housing.  – Single-detached homes are not accessible to all, nor will they be the choice for many incoming households. In 2012 I was part of a mulit-stakeholder task force to examine and come up with recommendations on how to increase the attainable housing options for the region. The report entitled Our Affordable Futures. A diverse housing stock will be essential and should include options such as walk-up apartments, high-rise condo units, town homes, detached and semi-detached homes. This is sometimes referred to as the “missing middle”.  Some people will want to rent, others to own. They will choose based on their needs, wants and what they can afford to pay. Providing the needed product in the right places needs to be a priority for the next council.To increase the supply of Market Affordable Housing we must examine what is contributing to the cost and minimize or remove any unnecessary factors. When assessing how housing is provided in St. Albert, each stakeholder, from elected officials and municipal administrators to developers and home builders, must answer for their contribution. We need to challenge age-old ways of doing things to ensure we are building housing of various types and densities so that we have housing available to all income levels which are built to meet the social, environmental and economic goals of our residents and city. That means we must scrutinize the development of sprawling tracts of single-detached houses in cookie cutter subdivisions.

    The high cost of new infrastructure and public services demands that we find a more innovative, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible approach to residential development. Shortly after the election, the new council will be asked to make some big decisions on proposed amendments to our Land Use Bylaw that will make it easier for developers to bring the missing middle to St. Albert.

  • Affordable living –  goes beyond the cost of housing and starts to include transportation, taxes, utilities, and all other aspects of managing your life. People are considering these factors when choosing homes. The term “walkability” has become a common discussion in both the new and resale markets alike. Being walkable reduces costs for many home owners. These are exciting new concepts that are lengthy and will be addressed in future posts.  Overall, I will make it a priority to show discipline and restraint during budget deliberations and in all decisions in order to keep St. Albert accessible and inclusive to all who want to live here

 

 

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