The City of Lacombe Council recently received an update from the Affordable Housing Committee (AHC) which identified new priorities based on the 2016 long-form Census.
Previously, the AHC was relying on outdated data from 2006 due to the absence of the long-form census.
“When we are going out to solicit responses from private enterprise, we want to make sure that we have a good reliable document that helps us make informed decisions,” Guy Lapointe, manager of community economic development, said.
The new Affordable Housing Strategy identifies four key housing issues in Lacombe:
- Housing affordability
- Ownership and rental diversity
- Aging in Lacombe
- People Living in vulnerable situations
Lapointe didn’t identify affordable housing as a problem in Lacombe, but it is something that communities are grappling with.
“Lacombe is definitely a community that experiences some of the same issues. We want to make sure our community is open and accessible to everyone,” he said.
Given this, the AHC creating four goals to tackle the issue of affordable housing including: Increasing affordable rental and home ownership housing supply; promoting rental inventory growth, including a wider range of properties designated for subsidies; expanding seniors housing options to advance a commitment to aging in place; and exploring permanent supportive housing options.
Lapointe identified affordable rental units to help keep young families in the community and a expansion of seniors housing to help Lacombe residents age in place as important strategies for Lacombe. The committee has a budget of $430,000 to help reach their goals.
“We have some guiding principles the committee is using and one of them is to leverage private dollars to make things happen,” he said.
“A good example of a previous project we worked with is the U-Turn housing project. They only received $80,000 but were able to use it for a down payment towards that home.”
One of the original authors of the Down Payment Assistance Program was Counc. Jonathan Jacobson who said the program took a lot of work to get going, with uptake coming very slowly. His take-away from the experience is more market solutions are required to help create affordable housing
“My professional and political opinion is the best way to get affordable housing is to increase supply,” he said.
To help private enterprise, Jacobson suggested land use bylaws that promote further development. This forces older development to lower prices and create affordability, according to Jacobson.
”If you add more supply, housing does get cheaper. That is market and sustainability-based solution. I was pleased to see there was some proposals for that within the 13 action items,” he said.
According to the document presented to council, the update to the Affordable Housing Strategy helps the realize housing gaps in the community. The next metric will be utilizing the available grant funding in order to show the city’s housing needs have been addressed.