AFFORDABLE HOUSING - PART 2: What’s in the Municipal Toolbox?

“I wish every member of the community, and especially members of government, would walk the streets and meet the people living on them. It would cure the misconception that homeless people are addicts and criminals. Several of the people we met work five days a week and due to circumstances are without a home.” - Stacey Wakelin, Langley Advance December 17, 2016

The need for affordable housing, and the presence of people experiencing homelessness in the Lower Mainland have been on STACEY WAKELIN’s radar for awhile. Stacey has been organizing Compassion Pop-Up Events with friends and co-workers, and partnering with community churches and non-profits to distribute donated items to the homeless for almost 2 years. When Stacey signed the Make Housing Central pledge as a Candidate in the 2018 Municipal Election, she committed to actively support affordable housing initiatives by using the tools Municipal governments already have in their toolboxes:

  1. Official Plans/Bylaws: Policies can include the protection of existing affordable housing and support for construction of new homes.
  2. Inclusionary Zoning: Municipalities can ask that a specific number of non-market units be built in a development and/or ask for a contribution to a municipal housing fund.
  3. Property Tax: Local governments can waive or reduce property taxes for co-op and non-profit housing providers in order to incentivize construction of new housing, or re-development of existing housing.
  4. Land Contributions: Municipalities can sell or lease their land (with a long-term tenure) to co-op and non-profit housing providers at a reduced rate, or contribute the land at no cost, in order to facilitate the construction of new non-market housing.
  5. Housing Agreements: Housing Agreements are a regulatory tool, in the form of a contractual arrangement between local governments and property owners or housing providers that govern the tenure, occupancy, cost and restrictions on non-market housing.
  6. Community Land Trusts: A community land trust acquires and holds land for the benefit of the broader community. Governments should partner with community land trusts to support the development and preservation of affordable homes.
  7. Transportation: Municipalities can implement policies to protect affordable housing stock near transit and provide incentives for the development of new, affordable, transit-oriented housing.
  8. Fee Waivers and Relief: There are a variety of municipal costs and fees associated with housing developments that can be waived, including development cost charges, community amenity charges, utility fees and building permit fees, which will reduce overall building costs.
  9. Advocacy: Lobby provincial and federal governments, and UBCM and FCM to have non-profit and co-op housing retained and built. Partner with BCNPHA, CHF-BC and community housing providers on their advocacy initiatives.
  10. Demolition Policies: Demolition and conversion policies protect against demolition of existing affordable housing and replacement with more expensive homes.
  11. Replacement Policies: Replacement policies can establish a ratio of replacement for every affordable or rental unit demolished.
  12. Zoning for Rental Housing: BC provincial regulations regarding municipal authorities have recently been amended to allow local governments to zone specifically to retain and encourage rental housing in their communities.

For the complete description of these tools, please click here.

Poverty reduction and people experiencing homelessness are issues very close to STACEY WAKELIN’s heart, and whether on Council or not, Stacey will continue to work hard to make housing in the Township accessible to all.

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