Homelessness Strategies Adopted by British Columbia’s Municipalities


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A study, commissioned by HRSDC and conducted by SPARC BC, sheds light on the effectiveness of several municipal strategies to address homelessness, especially density bonusing, the provision of land for emergency, transition, supportive or below‐market housing and permitting the development of secondary suites.

Robyn Newton,
Senior Researcher,
Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia

Published in: Real Estate, Business
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Homelessness Strategies Adopted by British Columbia’s Municipalities

  1. 1. Municipal Strategies to address Homelessness in BC Presentation to NHRC Homelessness Working Group November 3, 2009
  2. 2. Purpose: To develop a Resource for Municipalities addressing Homelessness <ul><li>Objectives: </li></ul><ul><li>To identify strategies being used by municipalities </li></ul><ul><li>To assess which strategies are successful </li></ul><ul><li>To identify/address barriers </li></ul><ul><li>To develop a useful Tool for municipalities </li></ul> 
  3. 3. What we did: <ul><li>Literature review </li></ul><ul><li>On line survey </li></ul><ul><li>Follow up interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Target: </li></ul><ul><li>Large and small </li></ul><ul><li>Rural/Urban/Northern </li></ul> 
  4. 4. What we found: <ul><li>Wide range of strategies (39) being used </li></ul><ul><li>Relative effectiveness depends on resources </li></ul><ul><li>US strategies are not always useful </li></ul> 
  5. 5. Strategies being used by BC Municipalities   14 Affordable Housing Strategy 8 14 OCP commitment/Housing Policy 7 19 Inclusionary Zoning 4 21 Conversion Control 3 26 Density Bonuses 2 15 Infill/Small Lot 6 16 Densification 5 34 Permitting Secondary Suites 1 # Strategy
  6. 6. Strategies being used by BC Municipalities   10 Partnerships with non-profits 16 10 Waive Fees 15 12 Real Estate Foundation Grants 12 13 Housing Agreements 11 14 Advocacy to Senior Government 10 11 Demolition Controls 14 12 Affordable Housing Trust Fund 13 14 Smaller units 9 # Strategy
  7. 7. Strategies being used by BC Municipalities   8 Conversion Fees 23 8 Standards of Maintenance Bylaws 21 9 Definition of Affordable Housing 20 # Strategy 10 Resale Price Restrictions 18 10 Lease land below market 17 8 Public/Private Partnerships 24 8 Fast tracking 22 9 Donating Land/Facilities 19
  8. 8. New solutions are emerging <ul><li>Laneway housing </li></ul><ul><li>Lock-off units </li></ul><ul><li>Shared Equity </li></ul><ul><li>6 storey wood frame construction </li></ul><ul><li>Zero lot line </li></ul><ul><li>Cob housing </li></ul> 
  9. 9. What’s working? <ul><li>Secondary suites </li></ul><ul><li>Density bonusing </li></ul><ul><li>Land contributions </li></ul><ul><li>Conversion policies </li></ul><ul><li>Demolition controls </li></ul>
  10. 10. What Strategies are less popular? <ul><li>The ones that: </li></ul><ul><li>require significant financial contributions </li></ul><ul><li>could provide disincentives to development </li></ul><ul><li>would affect property rights </li></ul> 
  11. 11. Municipal Barriers to provision of affordable housing <ul><li>Limited </li></ul><ul><li>revenue base </li></ul><ul><li>land base </li></ul><ul><li>mandate </li></ul><ul><li>authority </li></ul><ul><li>staff capacity </li></ul><ul><li>public support </li></ul><ul><li>Political will </li></ul><ul><li>opportunities </li></ul>
  12. 12. What do we need to change? <ul><li>Tax incentives for rental housing </li></ul><ul><li>Increased funding from senior governments </li></ul><ul><li>Legislation that empowers municipalities </li></ul><ul><li>Build additional non-market housing </li></ul>
  13. 13. Acknowledgements <ul><li>This study was generously funded by the </li></ul><ul><li>Homelessness Knowledge Development Program </li></ul><ul><li>Homelessness Partnering Secretariat </li></ul><ul><li>Human Resources and Social Development Canada </li></ul>
  14. 14. Thank You <ul><li>Robyn Newton [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>604-718-7757 </li></ul>The Social Planning and Research Council of BC works with communities in building a just and healthy society for all. Our full report is available at www.sparc.bc.ca