All levels of government, and support from communities, is what it will take to get affordable housing built here and across Canada.
Habitat for Humanity Canada President and CEO Julia Deans and Habitat for Humanity Prince Edward-Hastings’ Hazzem Koudsi joined together at the Rotary Club of Picton last week to offer some sobering statistics about the lack of affordable housing stock nationally and what the organization is doing about it.
Local governments, service clubs and volunteers can all help.
CMHC says Canada needs an additional 3.5 million homes by 2030. Yet building affordable housing has never been so arduous. Land costs more, so do the materials, and so does building. Interest rates and inflation take a toll. Delays from slower government processes do not help.
“All these factors are causing stalls across the housing spectrum. People and families are not getting the housing they need,” said Ms. Deans.
The housing crisis has been a long time in the making. Ms. Deans explained that while the private sector needs to step up, governments, housing providers and everyday Canadians have a role to play. The federal government has a number of tools including skilled trades training programs and tax incentives. Municipalities can remove zoning barriers.
Finally, local residents can use their voices.
NIMBY: Not in my backyard
“Last year, a survey showed nimbyism is alive and well, but there are chinks in the armour. Give local politicians the support they need by acknowledging that our lives and communities will suffer if we cannot shelter people properly,” Ms. Dean added.
Locally, the municipality is moving toward its third Habitat for Humanity build at 2 Bowery St. Homes on York and Barker Streets were erected in 2009 and 2014, respectively.
Mr. Koudsi noted that population forecasters Watson and Associates suggest the County will need at least 4,620 homes over the next 30 years. That is the medium-growth scenario. Their high-growth scenario suggests far more.
The 2021 census indicated 3.5 per cent of regional residents live in “unsuitable housing,” which means both safety and security are compromised.
“Unfortunately, there is no end in sight for people who will not achieve home ownership and will be in rent purgatory the rest of their lives,” Mr. Koudsi said. “It’s a big number and we have a lot of work to do.”
Our local Habitat plans multi-unit affordable housing at its new site at 2 Bowery Street.
“There will be public consultations to determine what we build here. We are very much looking forward to engaging with the community about the kind of build they want to see,” Mr. Koudsi said. “I can confirm that it won’t be a single dwelling home. The need in Prince Edward County is far too great for just one or two single family homes. There will be ‘densification,’ to use the appropriate planning term, but that will be done without ruining the aesthetics or the flow of the houses on the street.”