30 Things Municipalities Can Do To Promote More Affordable Housing

August 5, 2020
Housing<< Home
  1. Get organized - create a housing business plan or affordable housing strategy
  2. Create a private / non-profit sector advisory panel or local or regional housing agency to oversee the business plan or housing strategy
  3. Be innovative - what works well in other communities?
  4. Fully understand your local housing ecosystem - monitor market and non-market housing trends and needs
  5. Create a non-market housing inventory
  6. Define what affordable housing is - what are reasonable affordable rents in your community?
  7. Hold regular forums on affordable / supportive housing and recognize those housing providers who are making a difference
  8. Promote all provincial and federal housing programs to residents and developers as the case may be
  9. Leverage all assets, in particular land: sell land at lower-than-market rates, or donate or buy land for affordable / supported housing groups
  10. Ensure the disposal of surplus lands includes an affordable housing component
  11. Enter into shared ownership or P3 arrangements with affordable housing providers
  12. Undertake land banking at strategic locations / develop land trusts
  13. Waive or reduce property taxes for affordable housing providers, in particular, non-profit groups who provide supported housing
  14. Establish demolition and conversion control policies
  15. Effectively manage NIMBY
  16. Build flexible incentive packages (bonus zoning in strategic areas, i.e. downtowns; waive or significantly reduce permit fees; waive or significantly reduce or eliminate parking requirements for vulnerable populations, etc.)
  17. Extend secondary suites to all residential zones
  18. Support micro-suites and tiny homes
  19. Develop inclusionary zoning and/or mixed income housing strategies
  20. If there are under-utilized R2 properties, contact property owners and advise them of their rights. If there are minor variance issues with adding extra units, consider waiving permit fees and expediting minor variance applications.
  21. Consider whether lot or right-of-way dimensions are too large
  22. Examine water and other regulatory matters that may be unnecessarily impacting unit yields or limit the ability to achieve lower construction costs per unit
  23. Ensure densification policies include a commitment to affordable housing
  24. Ensure urban design requirements do not negatively impact the cost of housing
  25. Promote cost effective universal design opportunities for vulnerable populations such as older adults and those with disabilities
  26. Become an Age-Friendly Community
  27. Promote community-based partnerships and a ‘wrap around’ approach where housing, health and other supports are more effectively linked
  28. Establish an affordable housing reserve fund
  29. Enter into partnerships with financial institutions to secure reduced interest rates for affordable housing, and
  30. Bring municipal planning and investment attraction roles together to promote affordable housing as an economic development opportunity, because that’s exactly what it is.

(Sources: David Harrison MCIP, Ross Grant MCIP and Working NB)

David Harrison, MCIP

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David Harrison

David Harrison is an urban planner and development consultant based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.


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