Affordable housing has exponential benefits for the community, from improved public health outcomes to a more diverse and dynamic society. Housing affordability exists on a continuum from emergency housing to market home ownership. All forms of affordable housing are needed to address the current housing gap, where about 15% of the city’s residents live in housing that is not meeting their needs. In my first term, we introduced the 2018 Affordable Housing Strategy, a detailed roadmap of how the City can improve the supply of appropriate and affordable housing through partnerships and reducing development barriers. There has been significant progress on this Strategy to-date, such as the recent decision on the Habitat for Humanity proposal on Eric Street, and the Request for Proposals to build 14 units of permanent affordable housing with the CMHC Rapid Start funding pool. We undertook work with community partners to create a “NIMBY Toolkit”. In my role as Planning and Development lead, I have presented many motions in the Council Chambers to approve housing across the affordability spectrum, especially rental housing. I have brought forward changes to the development regulations that are in line with the Affordable Housing Strategy, such as permitting subsidiary dwelling units in more zones.
Affordability doesn’t stop at increasing housing stock. One change we made in my first term was to allow kids to ride the bus for free, which makes life more affordable for families in the city. As co-chair of the St. John’s Food Policy Council, I am currently working on St. John’s first ever “Food Assessment” which identifies gaps in the food network and will empower us to take action on those gaps.