MACAH Presents Affordable Housing Strategy for St. John's
The Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Affordable Housing (MACAH) has presented City Council with a new business plan designed to address affordable housing over the next three years. Creating Opportunities: Housing Our Community proposes a collaborative and engaging approach to increasing housing affordability in St. John’s and sets a target of 500 new homes by 2017. The City will act as a catalyst and a leader in the effort to achieve this target – together with many partners.
“We want St. John’s to be an inclusive and thriving city with a wide range of affordable housing options that contribute directly to community health, sustainable growth and economic security,” explained Deputy Mayor Ron Ellsworth, one of the Council representatives on MACAH. “We believe that the targets identified in this plan bring us one step closer to achieving those goals.”
“The City knows it cannot tackle the issue of affordable housing alone,” said MACAH Chair Victoria Belbin, who is also CEO of the Canadian Home Builders Association- NL. “Addressing this issue will require a collective effort from all levels of government and private sector and community partners.”
Affordable housing is a critical issue for the City of St. John’s. To be considered “affordable” housing must cost less than 30 per cent of pre-tax household income. The plan focuses on creating housing that is affordable to households in a growing affordability gap: those with incomes too high for housing subsidy but too low to afford market rental or ownership options. Housing and rental prices have risen quickly in the past decade and over 25 per cent of the city’s population now find themselves in that gap.
Since 2009, the City has undertaken numerous initiatives to address the issue of affordable housing. In Budget 2014: Steady the Course, the City committed to working collaboratively with its partners on the affordable housing issue by identifying the following methods:
- Investment in affordable housing developments;
- Maintaining rental rates without increase for City-owned housing units;
- Making City-owned land available for development;
- Establishing zoning and development policies that encourage affordable housing construction; and
- Continue to oppose federal government reduction in funding, through the Big City Mayor’s Caucus and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.