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CREATINGOPPORTUNITIESHOUSING OURCOMMUNITYAffordable HousingBUSINESS PLANCity of St John’s2014-2017

ContentsIntroduction3The Housing Continuum: A Focus on the ‘Crunch’4Context: Housing Market Realities in 20145Context: Definition of Affordable Housing5Context: Demographic Realties6Housing Affordability Housing Choices7Housing Choices Opportunities8Engaging Partners to Create Opportunities9Implementation Strategies11Setting Targets16Evaluation and Communication17Appendix A: The City of St. John’s Housing Charter19Appendix B: MACAH Membership20Appendix C: Income Ranges – Rationale21Appendix D: City Action on Housing22Creating Opportunities: Housing Our Community2

IntroductionThe Affordable Housing Business Plan flows directly from the City of St. John’s Housing Charter1,drafted by the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Affordable Housing (MACAH)2 and adopted by Councilin 2011. The Charter states as its mission:“The City of St. John’s will leverage its unique capacities and build strong partnershipsto produce, protect and promote affordable housing for the people of St. John’s.”The Plan begins with a context section that situates the efforts of the Plan on the Housing Continuum.The focus in on the ‘housing crunch’ – faced by growing numbers of households that have incomes toohigh to be eligible for subsidized housing, but still struggle to afford rental and ownership options in thecurrent housing market. The Context section also outlines market and demographic realities and alsoprovides a definition of affordable housing in that context. There is also an outline of the partnerswho will be engaged in the implementation of this Plan: their current responses to address the shortageof affordable housing and potential new areas of collaboration.The Housing Business Plan proposes a new approach to a complex issue, where problems are viewed asopportunities for collaborative action and investment that produces many dividends. The experience ofcommunities across Canada shows that investment in innovative housing solutions can produce social,economic and environmental dividends such as stronger support networks, jobs in the residentialconstruction industry and reductions in energy costs and greenhouse gases - among many others.Implementation Strategies are identified along with an analysis of how they will be carried out as wellas the financial implications.In addition to the strategies, the Affordable Housing Business Plan sets out a concrete target: to create500 affordable homes in the City of St. John’s by 2017. This target is not one that the City can meet onits own. This is the bench mark that will guide and inspire the action of all the City’s partners as wework together to address housing needs in our community. Finally, the Plan includes an Evaluationand Communication section, which outlines how progress toward the target will be monitored andregularly shared with the public.The ultimate goal of this process is to achieve the vision outlined in the Housing Charter:“St. John’s will be a vibrant, inclusive and thriving city with a wide range of affordablehousing options that contribute directly to community health, sustainable growth andeconomic security.”The City of St. John’s looks forward to working with our partners to achieve that visionover the next four years.12Creating Opportunities: Housing Our CommunitySee appendix A for the full CharterSee appendix B for membership of MACAH3

The Housing Continuum: A Focus on the ‘Crunch’ Over 35% of local households are in this housing crunchMany work in the single biggest sector of the economyIneligible for subsidy but can’t afford market prices They need more housing choicesSheltersCouch SurfingHomelessnessComplex ntIncreases4X e 2004 32 500 *NewHomes &Condos 82 500 *The Housing Business Planfocuses on thisThe CommunityPlan forHomelessnessHousing CrunchGrowing GapGrowing GapNotes:*With an income over 32 500, a household is not eligible for social housing, but market rents are not affordable.Households with incomes under the local median of 82 500 cannot afford to purchase at current average house prices.**CPI Consumer Price Index

Context: Housing Market Realities in 2014RentalHousing Local rental vacancy rates were in the bottom five in Canada formuch of 2008 -12. Availability of affordable rental is still very low. Increases in average market rent have outpaced inflation forseveral consecutive years. Most existing rental stock is old. Very little local rentalconstruction occurred in the three decades before 2012. New home prices doubled between 2004 and 2013. Housing prices in St. John’s rose faster than any city in CanadaRentalfor much of 2008-13.Housing54% since Average MLS house listings prices have increased2009 alone.SocialHousingSingleDetachedOwnership Vacancy rates are low in social housing; very little turnover Little new stock is being constructed. Many households find themselves with incomes too high toqualify for social housing but too low to afford market rents.A high percentage of local rental stock was converted to condosin the past decade.Much new condo construction is at higher ‘luxury’ price points.Vacancy rates for new condos is increasing, indicating that themarket is saturated.CondosDefining Affordable HousingThis document is based on the City’s core belief that housing is a human right and that everyoneneeds and deserves a home that is affordable to them.For housing to be considered affordable, it must cost less than 30% of pre-tax income includinghousing and related costs (mortgage or rent, along with property taxes, home energy, water andrepairs). This Business Plan seeks to promote the creation of more housing choices that areaffordable to a wider range of people according to the 30% criteria.To be even more specific about affordability, the Targets section of the Plan identifies incomeranges on page 16. The 500 homes produced must be affordable first and foremost to the peoplewho are most seriously impacted by shortages of affordable housing. In addition, the homes mustreflect the needs of a diverse population and be spread throughout all regions of the city.

Context: Demographic RealitiesWorking Families Working families power the local serviceindustry which comprises 25% of the economy Affordable rental options are limited Home prices have risen out of reach for many Housing choices must be close to work, schoolNew TalentSeniors Employers say housing priceand availability is becominga barrier to attraction andretention of new talent The leap to home ownershipis getting harder Artists and other creativesare seeking space wherethey can work and liveStudents A huge populationwith shrinking rentaloptions More innovativesolutions like HomeShare are neededComplex Needs Number of people withmental health andaddictions issues isrising, placing strain onsocial support systems Pioneering approachesare successfullyintegrating supportivehousing into thecommunityCreating Opportunities: Housing Our Community The fastest growingage segment of thepopulation is 45–64:the seniors of the verynear future Accessible andaffordable housing iscrucial to healthyaging in place Seniors havesignificantly lowermedian income Many live in older,inefficient housingstock with high energycostsNew Canadians Provincialgovernment plans totriple immigrationover next five years Attracting andretaining newcomers is key tofilling labour gaps Affordable rentaland ownershipoptions are needed6

Housing Affordability Housing ChoicesDifferent people have different housing needs based on their household size, employment, ability,health, income, stage in life, and a host of other factors. Affordable housing is about creating andpromoting a range of housing choices as diverse as the city itself.“A community should not be judged on its economy alone. We need toensure that everyone in our society has a housing choice so that we canbuild on these prosperous times. Prosperity tends to widen the gap inoptions available. Our challenge is to find ways to narrow this gap.”Craig Williams, omeSharingAffordableHomeOwnershipAccessible and AgeFriendly udioSeamusLive-WorkHousingSecondarySuitesCreating Opportunities: Housing Our CommunityEnergy EfficientNeighbourhoodsRetrofits/ New Builds7

Housing Choices OpportunitiesWhen the problem of an affordable housing shortage is viewed as an opportunity to create housingdiversity it shifts perspective positively and radically. As a local home builder stated eloquently:“The greatest way to mobilize huge amounts of capital, resources andinnovation towards affordable housing is to show industry that buildingaffordable housing is an "opportunity" and not a "problem". Treated as anopportunity building a continuous supply of affordable housing becomes partof the norm and becomes part of our main business model as builders.”Greg Hussey, Home BuilderCommunities across Canada are already beginning to realize the practical benefits of engaging partnersfrom all sectors to create more diverse housing choices as a part of their regular ‘business’.Collaborative investments in innovative solutions produce economic, social and environmentaldividends for the entire community:Economic Dividends Adequate supply of high quality and affordable housing attracts and retains young talent Construction and renovation create employment; and can be an opportunity to engagemarginalized members of the labour force, such as youth at promise. Creates housing for workers in the service and hospitality industry close to their work Home ownership increases household equity, economic security, investment in the local economy. Building affordable rental housing creates local small business opportunities; Pilot projects provide opportunities for businesses to build capacity and skill to open new housingmarket niches (such as age friendly housing, energy efficient construction, affordable condos) Housing construction and renovation generates revenue for all levels of governmentSocial Dividends Housing is the fundamental basis from which to pursue health, employment and basic social needs. Accessible, age friendly housing promotes healthy aging in place, which is not only more desirablefor most households but also more cost effective for society. Evidence from several national studies shows that proactive investment in housing solutions is farmore cost effective than reactive, emergency responses for people experiencing housing crisis.Environmental Dividends Higher density housing promotes affordability and makes more efficient use of land: that reducesthe community’s ecological footprint and prevents costly urban sprawl. Increasing energy efficiency in homes produces very significant and highly cost effective reductionsin a community’s greenhouse gas emissions. Remediation of brownfield3 sites as housing makes a community more beautiful and liveable inaddition to cleaning up contamination.3A former industrial or commercial site where future use is affected by real or perceived environmental contamination.Creating Opportunities: Housing Our Community8

Engaging Partners to Create OpportunitiesPartnerships are essential to the success of this Business Plan and collaborative investment in housingsolutions is the only way to realize the full potential of the economic, social and environmentaldividends. This is a summary of the partners that must be engaged in this Plan, including their currentactivity related to affordable housing and potential new areas of collaboration. The St. John’s Mayor’sAdvisory Committee on Affordable Housing (MACAH) is a hub of leadership and partnership for theCity’s housing initiatives, and includes representation from most of the stakeholders in this section.Federal PartnersThe Government of Canada, through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), works withits provincial and territorial partners to reduce the number of Canadians in need by improving access toaffordable, sound and suitable housing. CMHC has partnered with the City of St. John’s by sponsoringthe City’s annual Housing Forum, typically held on National Housing Day on November 22. CMHC’sCorporate Representative for NL is an active member of the City’s MACAH as well as severalsubcommittees. More recently, the City has explored CMHC Seed Funding to resource earlydevelopment work on an affordable home ownership project. CMHC Seed Funding and other grantscan be very useful resources for future innovation.Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) allocates funding to address St. John’s communitypriorities through Community Plan to Reduce Homelessness developed by the multi-stakeholderCommunity Advisory Board called the St. John’s Advisory Committee on Homelessness. Since 2001,HPS has invested 18 million in supportive and transitional housing, shelters and community capacitybuilding. This funding is disbursed annually by means of a request for proposals and helps to fund bothshelter construction and community capacity building initiatives. In 2013 the City became theCommunity Entity which administers HPS funding, and the 2014-19 renewal of HPS funding by thefederal government bodes well for continuing collaboration.Canada Lands transferred 2 acres of land for the City’s 46 unit Pleasantville housing initiative in 2010through the HPS Surplus Federal Real Property for Homelessness Initiative. This Initiative and thepartnership hold promise for future housing projects as well.Provincial PartnersNL Housing owns and operates over 2800 units of affordable housing in the City, and provides asubstantial annual operating grant to support the City’s 426 Non-Profit Housing units. NL Housing isalso the lead agency for the implementation of Secure Foundations housi