An Affordable Housing Strategy was presented by Scatliff + Miller + Murray, a consultant group, to Morden City Council last week. It was the result of an Affordable Housing Grant the city received from the Province in 2022.
The meeting was well attended by service agencies, non-profit organizations, concerned citizens, and people with a vested interest in finding affordable housing in the community, according to Economic Development Officer Jason Dyck.
He shared how the funds were also used.
"It's was used to support the development of a Habitat for Humanity duplex as well as a 12-Plex of affordable units, in addition to this affordable housing strategy. We've been working on it for about a year and the results came in to be shared with the community. There's a lot of interesting information contained in the report that will help inform the city and its policy and planning decisions for decades to come, really."
Dyck explained its purpose and goal of the ninety-four page document.
"What the reports does is give us some perspective on the housing needs in the community right now, on the growth and demographic trends, as well as on strategies to address what is quite clearly described as a housing shortage in the region. As far as the population trends go, according to the Statistics Canada census data, Morden is growing far faster than the province as a whole, and we are short on dwelling units as a result of it."
He went on to describe some of the affects this has on affordable housing options in Morden.
"Combining that, with some of the inflationary pressures on the building costs and cost of living increases across the board, as well as interest rate increases, as well as minimal inventory of available homes to purchase or apartments to rent, have all driven prices up in particular in this region, even though it's a national problem as well."
Dyck outlined some of the highlights in the report.
"Some of the highlights from it include the study population growth, the fact that the city will need 3089 additional dwellings in the next 20 years to match our population growth. So that is an 11.8% increase in our current dwelling units. We in particular need a couple of specific styles of dwelling units to meet the current demand, which includes more single person households, 3 bedroom units are also in short supply around here too. In particular, on the rental side of things."
Dyck admits there are limitations on what the city can do alone adding the financial ability alone requires Provincial and Federal aid to make it possible.
He noted there is an example in the report to the work happening within the region to seriously consider.
"Although there's some great examples in the area of where cities have have made a difference in particular, the work of Central Station and the Winkler Community Housing Authority has been inspiring from our perspective, and was drawn on as an example in the report to show how municipalities can have an impact and not just municipalities or municipal governments, but also the local population and volunteers."
According to the report, Canada Mortage And Housing Corporation (CMHC) considers housing "affordable" if it costs less than 30% of a household’s before-tax income. The report also outlined that, while affordable housing often refers specifically to government-subsidized rental housing, the term can include housing provided by public, private, and non-profit sectors. Incentives like waiving development application fees, or providing small grants, loans and tax-related incentives are examples of ways cities can collaborate with developers to build more affordable housing. It also cited the selling or leasing of municipally-owned surplus property at terms favourable for an affordable housing project.
Hear more from Dyck and his conversation with Reporter Robyn Wiebe in the audio below: