What is affordable housing?
Affordable housing is about whether a household is able to meet its housing needs while still being able to afford other essentials. Affordable housing is not just about cost. It is also important to consider if the house has enough room for the people living there and what condition it is in.
Housing is assessed using Core Housing Need, a measure that considers three factors:
Affordability – Is the cost of housing less than 30% of household income or could the household afford a market rental that meets the other 2 standards without spending more than 30% of their income;
Adequacy – Does the dwelling require any major repairs; and,
Suitability – Are there enough bedrooms for the people living there.
In Grande Prairie, 27% of households fall below one or more of those standards.
Who does housing affordability affect?
Housing affordability can affect anyone. 27% of households fall below one or more of the core housing needs standards.
There are some groups that are more likely than others to face challenges with housing.
Renters face more challenges than owners do. 75% of households in core housing need are renters and 25% are owners.
Within the renter population, several groups are more likely to be in core housing need than others are, including aboriginal households, immigrants, seniors, single parents, and people with disabilities.
In 2017, there were 443 households on the waitlist for family and special purpose housing.
Why do we need an Affordable Housing Strategy?
An Affordable Housing Strategy outlines the City’s role in supporting affordable housing. It will establish targets and an action plan for improving housing in Grande Prairie.
The current Affordable Housing Master Plan is nearly 10 years old. It lead to several projects and policies that helped to create over 100 non-market housing units. The plan needs to be updated to reflect current conditions in the City and to take advantage of new opportunities, such as funding from the National Housing Strategy.
What can the City do to address housing affordability?
There are three main categories of programs and policies the City could choose:
Incentivize – Create policies and incentives that make it easier and less expensive to build housing;
Subsidize – Provide funding or other supports to get housing built or to help people with housing costs; and,
Build – Build or collaborate with other organizations to build housing.