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Affordable Housing

I've seen this CBC story floating around, with many people expressing concern: 

Housing is a very big challenge in our community, so I am glad to see it being discussed. I'm thankful this article is creating conversation.

That being said, I think there are a few things worth clarifying.

1) This article says "the city's infrastructure and protective services committee voted to move forward with the development of its own housing corporation." That isn't accurate. The Committee doesn't have the authority to direct this corporation to move forward. What Committee did was send this to Council, so that all of us can have a discussion and vote on what to do next. I know at least a few Councillors (including me) support the general direction the City is heading, but have big concerns about some of the specifics proposed.

2) I don't think anyone on Council or City administration has any desire to compete with private industry. In fact, a big part of the strategy proposed to Council is measures to help private industry be able to undertake a wider range of projects all on its own. That being said, I think there is some work to be done to insure the City doesn't inadvertently compete with industry.

3) The plan Council will be discussing calls for $45-$108 million in investment to create new affordable units. However, I don't think anyone is picturing all (or even most) of that investment coming from City property taxes. Major funding sources will include provincial/federal grants, financing that is paid back through rents, philanthropic giving, and private investment.

As I do with everything else Council discusses, over the weekend I'll be posting more details and how I will be approaching the debate. Stay tuned to this page. That being said, I always encourage you to read things for yourself.

Here is the Affordable Housing Strategy Council will be considering: 

I need to give it some more consideration, but I'm likely to support it. The broad goals and strategies it sets out seem sensible to me.

However, something the strategy calls for is forming a Community Housing Company. This business plan for it is here.

I am very unlikely to be supporting this business plan as presented.

I think it is likely a good idea for the City to form an arms length organisation to help non-profits and private industry get projects going (in my post over the weekend, I'll share some reasons why just doing this through a City department maybe isn't the best approach). But I don't think I support this entity building units for itself to own.

Important definition: "Affordable Housing" has a specific definition in this strategy, taken from the CMHC. An individual or family is said to have affordable housing if they can find housing this is in adequate condition and has an appropriate amount of rooms for 30% or less of their pre-tax income.

In 2016, ~2475 households in Grande Prairie could not find affordable housing.