Presented by: Jill MacLellan & Kasia Tota (Halifax Regional Municipality “A mid-size city with big housing problems”
Affordable housing is not just an issue for large municipalities and unfortunately is a concern for mid-size, rural and remote communities as well. Jill MacLellan and Kasia Tota explained the history of housing and social policies to provide context for the recent urban housing policy decisions, including some policies below:
Land use bylaw simplification
Variety of housing options
Regulating short term rentals
Removal of minimum separation distance for shared housing
Through its density bonusing policy, Halifax Regional Municipality is building a reserve to fund its affordable housing grant program. Additionally, development and zoning permits are waived for non-profit affordable housing projects.
A snapshot of the mural the Cahdco team created for the session on Halifax’s approach to affordable housing.
Halifax Regional Municipality was a municipal stream recipient of the Rapid Housing Initiative to provide deeply affordable units for those experiencing homelessness. The projects were spread out across the municipality, including rural areas and highlight the importance of rural affordable housing projects. Although the urban plan is complete for the Halifax Regional Municipality, the suburban and rural plans are still in progress and will require separate policies to address the specific needs of affordable housing in theses areas.
The theme and guiding principles of elevation, new heights, moving forward and upward, vantage points, and taking paths to explore were observed as it relates to municipal housing policies.
Municipalities are elevating their policies to remove barriers and encourage affordable housing
Looking back on existing policies and evaluating their effectiveness is required to move forward and upward and make improvements
It is important to explore new vantage points and perspectives and recognize what works for one development or municipality may need to be adjusted in another context
Partnerships with non-profit organizations are a path to explore with increased development capacity in this sector
A snapshot of the mural the Cahdco team created summarizing the conference themes.
Finally, common successes and challenges or barriers to affordable housing were present throughout the presentations.
Affordable housing for whom?
Core housing need is a straightforward measure, but does not consider the local context
Affordable housing criteria and requirements differ for each funding program and can be difficult to navigate and meet each requirement within one development
Some forms of affordable housing are still out of reach for those who need it most
Separate streams to evaluate affordable (missing middle) and deeply affordable (subsidized) housing developments is one approach
Opposition to development
Debunk the Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) myths
Saying no to affordable housing is saying yes to homelessness
Affordable housing is a basic need and part of the public welfare
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
There is a need for disaggregated housing and homelessness statistics
For middle income earners, the impact of unaffordable housing is moving further away, but for the lowest income it means homelessness
Affordable housing is only affordable if it is dignified, adequate and culturally appropriate
Find someone to champion your project
The role of municipal planners is to champion affordable housing and speak up against opposition to development
Involve decision makers early in the process
Municipal financial support through grant programs, development charge waivers, and property tax reductions increases the number and level of affordable units
A snapshot of the mural the Cahdco team created summarizing the affordable housing themes that emerged over the course of the conference.