One of our top platform points is Housing and Homelessness and if I am so lucky to serve as Ward Métis’s city councillor, tackling houselessness will be one of my top priorities.
Affordable housing exists on a continuum (see below). We need actions at all points along this continuum. We need to integrate more market rate affordable housing into our neighbourhoods so that families choose to live in our mature communities.
This means infill, and it means going beyond ‘skinny homes’. We need more duplexes, row housing, basement suites, garden suites, missing middle projects, and courtyard housing. Diversifying the types of infill we allow in our neighbourhoods will create greater housing choice.
On the other end of the affordable housing spectrum, we need to invest in permanent supportive housing, with wrap around supports (mental health supports, addiction supports, employment supports, etc.).
The City can play a lead role in championing this work, but we need buy in from other levels of government to build out a more robust affordable housing system that serves the diverse needs of Edmontonians.
Tackling a problem as big as chronic homelessness will require an intergovernmental approach. While the city can and should be building more affordable housing (which I have been a vocal advocate for), a long-term, systemic solution will require buy-in from other levels of government.
While I believe the city should do as much as it possibly can, we can’t let the province or federal government wash their hands of this shared responsibility.
That being said, in the absence of buy-in the province, I’m committed to finding municipally-led solutions. The Rapid Housing Initiative is a good example of this where the city is getting funding directly from the federal government to create new affordable housing for vulnerable community members. We need to continue building these partnerships and relationships.
Over the last few decades, municipalities have been placed in a precarious position as the responsibility for housing and homelessness has been downloaded onto cities (since the 80s) without adequate revenue raising streams. Long-term, cities need to be granted additional revenue raising mechanisms so that we can have a more robust, municipally-led affordable housing system.
That being said, immediate action is necessary, and that’s what I plan to do. Part of that action involves reallocating funds towards permanent supportive housing, part of that action involves solidifying funding partners from other levels of government.
We need councillors who understand these dynamics & are prepared to push on significant regulatory reforms (like the zoning bylaw renewal) to open the door for more market rate affordability, AND who will champion investment in transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing.
Written by: Ashley Salvador