Affordable housing important to City officials

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During a Budget Town Hall we hosted last week, which included both the Chief Administrative Officer and Mayor Provenzano, one of the topics discussed touched on affordable housing.

This is a struggle for many people in the community as we pointed out in a story earlier this week.

Mayor Christian Provenzano responded to a reader submitted question about affordable housing and shortages thereof:

“I think one of the important things to recognize is that housing falls under the Social Service Administration board. So the Sault Ste. Marie Housing Corporation is in that budget, under that board’s discretion and determination,” noted Provenzano. “So the municipal council, when we do our budget, just in the municipal budget, there actually is no specific funds that relate to housing.”

Over the past few weeks at council, the City has approved some housing projects during the zoning part of the meetings. Provenzano realizes there are things they can do, as a municipality, to encourage more housing.

“Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t programs at the municipality to encourage additional housing. Whether they be benefit programs or whether we adjust policy to say, for instance, allow for a second unit development on a single family residential piece of property,” continued Provenzano.  “So there are things the municipality can do, and from a planning perspective is looking at doing to encourage development and encourage an increase in supply which helps with affordable housing.”

According to Better Dwelling, Canada’s largest independent housing news outlet, the above statement may not be the case.

“Homes are being built and delivered at a record pace, way in excess of population growth. You’re getting a little suspicious. Home prices aren’t falling. They’re actually rising at one of the fastest rates in history,” states their article. “What gives? Hate to break it to you, but an increase in new home construction should always increase prices. During a building boom, more building should speed up price growth. That’s because the laws of supply and demand apply to all parts of a house — not just the final product.”

CAO Malcolm White noted the city does have some programs in place to help with housing affordability.

“We do have some programs that try and encourage the rental housing market as especially affordable rental housing. We have the rental housing incentive program, and that’s been in effect since 2013. And that’s provided tax rebates to over 400 new rental units,” stated White. “The mayor created the opportunity under our planning processes for people to fairly easily provide second units in existing residents. These are often something that can be done in a very affordable way rather than doing a new build.”

Do you have stories about struggling to find housing in our city? Feel free to share them with us at [email protected] or in the comment section.

Stay with SaultOnline/ONNTV as we continue to bring you stories in regards to the housing struggle in Sault Ste. Marie.

 

3 COMMENTS

  1. Oh really, where did the millions for affordable housing given by the feds go in 2016 your stats for housing seem to stop reporting to the provincial government after this period . Hmmm

  2. Q/ How does an elderly person with a big house, and a small income get more income so they can comfortably afford to stay in that house?

    A/ Put in a Secondary Suite.

    Q/ How does a renter find good, affordable accommodation?

    A/ Look for an elderly person with a big house who has put in a Secondary Suite.

    A Secondary Suite is a completely separate and self-contained living space in, or beside, an existing house. They have their own entrance, their own kitchen, their own bathroom, and their own rooms. Completely separate. They can be a separate part of a big house, or a separate building on the property.

    If you are a good renter with good references, and are maybe even willing to help an elderly person with their driveway maintenance and yard work you might want to consider going to some elderly person with a big house who you get along with, and working out some way to create a Secondary Suite at their house that you can rent.

    It’s a Win-Win!!

    The renter gets good, affordable housing, and the elderly person gets a bunch of extra income, and maybe some help around the house.

    And it’s a win for the city as well because it’s a great way to make neighbourhoods more densely populated which is a very good thing according to city planners.

    This is probably the most affordable type of private rental housing you’re ever going to get, and our city is making it really easy to create these Secondary Suites. It’s just that elderly people with big homes are not going to create these Secondary Suites for just anybody to rent. You will have to get someone you know to create one so they feel comfortable renting to someone they know. Of course they’ll love the extra income (and extra help if something can be worked out).

    But once this type of affordable housing starts to take off we will see Secondary Suites all over the place in Sault Ste. Marie.

    Sincerely,
    Mark Brown

  3. Whatever the issue may be the mayor can’t wait to shift the responsibility for it onto a different authority. If it’s not related to a downtown plaza he doesn’t want to hear it.

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