Everyone who lives in St. John’s should be able to find affordable and acceptable housing here. Affordable Housing isn’t just about low-income residents, it matters for students, for seniors, for people who are beginning careers, for young families, for artists, for anyone who can’t buy a big, new, detached house right now.
The City’s 2014 Affordable Housing Business Plan was a praiseworthy initiative to coordinate public, private, and nonprofit groups to put more affordable housing on the market. We need to continue and build on its efforts.
I agree that Council’s primary role is in building partnerships and coordinating efforts. But there’s more we can do:
- Affordability means more than the cost of renting or owning. We must consider the whole cost of living in a residence, including heat, transportation, etc. A house you can’t afford to commute from, or to heat, isn’t affordable.
- Better public transit and more walkable or cycling-friendly neighbourhoods can solve affordability problems, if they allow young people or seniors to live without a car, or families to get by with fewer cars.
- Accessible and age-friendly housing will be particularly in demand in the coming years. We should be preparing for that challenge. [See: Accessibility]
- For most people, housing isn’t accessible unless the neighbourhood offers green space, active, and social space. Finding active and social spaces can be particularly challenging for seniors and families with young children. [see: Real Neighbourhoods].
- Affordable housing is affected by every zoning or planning decision. It can’t be left in the hands of one working group; it affects everything. Are we allowing infill housing on large existing lots? Basement apartments? Semi-detached or row houses? Multi-unit buildings? It shouldn’t be against the law to build a small, cheap house.
- In the long run, St. John’s won’t have affordable housing unless new construction keeps pace with population growth and changing needs. I will keep that in mind when considering development applications.