Affordable and Attainable Housing
Housing insecurity is a foremost concern for me. As a father of four younger adults, I know first hand how difficult home ownership has become. It is more difficult and more expensive for young people to get into the housing market today than it has been for previous generations.
Saugeen Shores has close to a 0% vacancy rate. Rents and house prices are more comparable to cities than to the surrounding area. In many cases first and last months rent can cost $4,000.00 to $5,000.00! Roughly 40% of the people that work in Port Elgin don’t live here, because they can’t find a place, or they can’t afford a place here. While the town has approved a lot of new apartment buildings, there is no guarantee that they will be affordable.
The lack of affordable housing is hurting our economy. When people move out of Saugeen Shores because they can’t afford it, they often take a service job where they moved to. It seems every store and restaurant in Saugeen Shores has a “help wanted” sign in the front window. Restaurants are reducing hours and doing only take out because they can’t find staff. Local construction companies can’t hire the help that they need. If we want these workers in our economy, we need to provide them with decent housing.
Saugeen Shores has all the elements it needs to tackle affordable housing. We have land available, we have willing partners, and we have great community will, resources, and ability.
The Town has a say in how it is developed, it’s not just up to developers. In the rush to grow Saugeen Shores, developers have been given breaks on development fees, allowed to reduce green spaces, and lots of free reign. It is time for the Town to make developments that include and benefit everyone that lives here.
Affordable housing should not mean renting for life. Home ownership should be an obtainable goal for this generation. Home ownership should not be only for people that work at the power plant. Some simple solutions for making homes more affordable include;
Partner with Habitat for Humanity. We have one of the oldest and most successful Habitat charters in the country. They are a willing and experienced partner that is just waiting to be asked to be involved.
Make a subdivision or a part of a subdivision “starter homes”. Smaller home on proportional sized lots that are affordable for a working family. This was common practice until about 25 years ago. We can do it again.
Create a ratio for new builds and affordable housing, so a set amount of all new residential units must be affordable housing.
We don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Many municipalities have made excellent progress in affordable housing. Saugeen Shores just needs to do what they did! There are many innovative and proven solutions out there. We simply need to act on it. Canmore Alberta and Victoria BC are just two communities that have made real headway on attainable and affordable housing.
Affordable housing is an issue that is always talked about, but little has been done to solve the problem. It is time for Saugeen Shores to take some concrete steps to provide families homes that they can afford. I am confident that I can work with other council members, community partners and stakeholders, to make affordable housing a reality.