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Homelessness, Affordable and Appropriate Housing in British Columbia, Canada and Internationally: Some Accessible Strategies for Local Governments

Homelessness, Affordable and Appropriate Housing in British Columbia, Canada and Internationally: Some Accessible Strategies for Local Governments

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Some Accessible Strategies for Local Governments to deal with Homelessness, Affordable and Appropriate Housing in British Columbia, Canada and Internationally.
Some Accessible Strategies for Local Governments to deal with Homelessness, Affordable and Appropriate Housing in British Columbia, Canada and Internationally.

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Published by: Comox Valley Housing Task Force on Jan 15, 2013
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11/06/2014

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Homelessness,AffordableandAppropriateHousinginBritishColumbia,CanadaandInternationally:SomeAccessibleStrategiesforLocalGovernments.
AreportpresentedtotheFuturesCommitteeoftheComoxValleyHousingTaskForce.byRogerJ.G.Albert 
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Thisdocumenthasthreeparts:1.Ashortstatementabouttheprevalentandgrowingroleofmunicipalgovernmentsandregionaldistricts(localgovernments)indealingwithaffordable,appropriatehousingandhomelessnessinCanadaandabroad.2.Asummarizingtableshowingwhatisworkingformunicipalities,regionaldistrictsandotherlocalgovernmentsinaddressingaffordablehousingandhomelessness;whatisworkingintheprovisionofsupportsinestablishingandmaintaininghousing.3.Asecondtablethatincludesanoutlineofspecificformats,whattheydo,howtheydoitandwhatworkedorworks(wheneverit’spossibletodeterminefromtheliterature).
 
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1.Theprevalentandgrowingroleofmunicipalgovernmentsandregionaldistricts(localgovernments)indealingwithaffordable,appropriatehousingandhomelessnessinCanadaandabroad.WhateverwethinkaboutwhetherornottheCanadianfederalgovernmentshouldorshouldnotbuildandfundsocialhousing,thefactisthatforover30yearsnow,ithassystematicallygottenoutofthebusinessofsocialhousing.Theprovincesandlocalgovernmentshavebeenlefttopickuptheslack.Someprovinceshave,mosthavenotsothestockofaffordablenon-marketandmarketrentalhousingisinseriousdeclineandlittleisbeingbuilt.
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Inthe1996federalbudget,acompletebreakwasmadesignalinganendtotheconstructionandsubsidizationofsocialhousingalthoughtheprocesshadbeenafactfor10years.
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Virtuallyallfederallyfundedsocialhousingconstructionhappenedinthe1970sandthefederalgovernmentwillceasetoprovidesubsidiestothosesocialhousingprojectscompletelyinthecomingyearsastheremortgagescometoterm.Additionally,thefederalgovernmententeredintoagreementswiththeprovinces(BCintheearly90s)todivestthemselvesofthemanagementofallsocialandpublichousingprojects.
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BoththeFederationofCanadianMunicipalities(FCM)andtheUnionofBritishColumbiaMunicipalities(UBCM)havedecriedthefederalgovernment’srapidlywaninginterestinsocial(affordableorappropriate)non-markethousing.Infacttheimminentcompleteabsenceofthefederalgovernmentinsocialhousinghasforcedtheprovincialandmunicipalgovernmentstopickuptheindirectcostsofthefederalgovernment’spolicies.BritishColumbiaandQuebechavebeentheonlyprovincestocontinuebuildingandfundingsocialhousingaftertheearly1990sbuteventheyaresignalingtolocalgovernmentstheirdesiretohavethemplayanincreasinglyimportantroleinsocialhousingconstructionandmanagement.AlbertaisnowwayaheadofthecurveinCanadaintheplanningforandconstructionofnewsocialhousingprojecting8000newunitsby2018.
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BC,since1992,requireslocalgovernmentstoincorporateplanstodealwithhomelessnessandsocialhousingintheirOfficialCommunityPlans(OCPs)whileAlbertaandOntarionowrequirelocalgovernmentstoproduce10yearplanstoendhomelessness.LocalgovernmentsinAlbertaarewellonthewaywithimplementationoftheplansandOntariorequireslocalgovernmentstohaveconcretestrategiesinplaceby2013.Giventhissituation,localgovernmentshaveturnedtotheprivateandnon-profitsectorstohelpout.
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Inthis,thenon-profitsectorhassofarbeenthemajorplayerintheprovisionofsocial
 
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housing.Localgovernmentshave‘incubated’non-profitstooverseesocialhousingprojectsandinsomecases(BCNon-profitHousingAssociation)non-profitshavebecomemajorstakeholdersintheprovisionandmanagementofaffordablehousing.
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Giventhevacuumofinvolvementbythefederalandprovincialgovernments,localgovernmentshavetakenaleadershiproleinensuringthattheircommunitiesarelivableandthatpeoplegetthehousingtheyneedtolivereasonablelives,tostayoutofjailandfindemployment.Thisisnoeasytaskgiventhevariousphilosophicalandpoliticalperspectivesontheissue,publicreticence,theextremeneedsofthehomelessandthefactthataffordablehousingforlow-incomeworkingpeopleisbecomingahugeissue.Thereisacontinuumofneedjustasthereisacontinuumofhousingtypes.Thirtyyearsagoveryfewmunicipalitiesorlocalgovernmentseventhoughtaboutsocialhousing,povertyandhomelessnessissues,althoughinrealitycitiesinCanadahavebeeninvolvedinsocialhousingonandoffforahundredyears.Theywere(andstillare)occupiedwithroads,transportation,policing,water,wastemanagementamongmanyotherthingslikesports,recreationand,tosomeextent,‘culture.’Morerecently,hundredsofCanadianlocalgovernmentsaredoingsomethingaboutsocialandaffordablehousingandhomelessness,themajoritybysomeaccounts.Theissueiscriticalatthelocallevel.ThingsmightbedifferentifallofCanada’shomelessandnearhomelesswereconcentratedinOttawaandtheprovincialcapitalswheretheywouldbemuchmorevisibletopoliticiansthere,buttheyaren’t.Homelessnessisanational(andobviouslyglobal)phenomenon,butit’salwaysexpressedlocally.Forthisreason,leadershipmustbeassumedlocallyandtherearemanyoptions.Theseniorlevelsofgovernmentmustprovidetheresources,butlocalgovernmentsmustbethedesignersofthebestsolutionfortheirlocalpopulations.Noonelocalgovernmentcandoitalone,norcananyonenon-profitorganization.Thereisapressingneedforcoordinated,concentratedandeffectiveactionatthelocalleveltomovefrommanagingtodealingmoreeffectivelywithhomelessness,poverty,socialhousing,mentalhealthandotherissues.Thankfully,therearemodelsavailablebywhichwecanlearntohaveamajorcollectiveimpactonthehousingandhomelessnessproblemsweallface.TheComoxValleyisnotstartingfromscratchhere.Forexample,CourtenayhasanAffordableHousingPolicy,andanumberofzoninginitiativesthatareaimedateasingtherentalsqueezeintheValleyandComoxhasafavourablesecondarysuitebylaw.TheComoxValleyRegionalDistrict(CVRD)hasaRegionalSustainabilityStrategyandaRegionalGrowthStrategythataddresshomelessnessandaffordablehousingandithascommissionedstudiesonbestpracticesonhomelessnessandaffordablehousing.

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