Concrete work to start on Nanaimo's affordable housing, homelessness action plans

By Spencer Sterritt
September 19, 2018 - 5:54pm

Diversifying Nanaimo's neighbourhoods and finding a place for everyone to be able to lay their heads is a key hope borne out of Nanaimo's affordable housing strategy.City of Nanaimo

NANAIMO — After several years of preparation, City of Nanaimo staff are ready to tackle both short and long-term projects to hopefully bring more diverse housing to the harbour city and provide more supports for homeless residents.

City councillors endorsed both the long-in-the-works affordable housing strategy and action plan to end homelessness during Monday's council meeting.

The affordable housing plan has more than 100 recommendations about how to alleviate the housing crunch in the city and offer more homes for everyone. It includes options such as amending zoning to allow for micro-suites, provide bonuses for housing projects which are 100 per cent residential and work more with Habitat for Humanity to develop more affordable homes.

Social planner Karin Kronstal told NanaimoNewsNOW with the road map of policies and regulations now in place, City departments will be able to work through the numerous targets they've set.

“I'm hopeful in a year we'll come back and show the positive progress we've made on getting some of these policy initiatives implemented. In a couple years, we'll have concrete results in terms of the type of housing which is available to Nanaimo residents.”

Specific targets include having more than 50 per cent of new residential starts be intended for rentals, achieving a mix of housing starts which favours multi-unit dwellings and creating new partnerships in the community to foster affordable developments.

Kronstal admitted the “slow grind of bureaucracy” is at work in implementing many of the actions found in the report, but said it's a 10-year plan which will hopefully have long-term benefits for residents.

Throughout the process, Kronstal said it was interesting to learn the limits of what a municipality can do in terms of housing making significant changes within neighbourhoods which already have official plans.

“Nanaimo was one of the first places to allow secondary suites and coach houses. The idea you could have both of them on one lot, for some people that would feel pretty radical. But for others, they would say that's not radical at all.

“It's such a multifaceted issue, it also needs a multifaceted solution.”

The action plan to end homelessness was also endorsed, after initially being put off until the affordable housing strategy was completed.

The action plan hopes to help people who are currently homeless or at risk of experiencing homelessness by laying out strategies and tasks to improve the local situation over the next five years.

“While the current system is still working, pressures on services are rising and changes must be made before the demand for services can't be accommodated,” the action plan said.

There's 10 strategies found within the five-year plan, such as more supports for those transitioning off the streets, services and assistance for people who don't use shelters and redirecting resources to managing addictions and mental health issues.

Initiatives like creating a drop-in facility with available resources are already being worked on by the City.

Regular updates about the implementation of the various strategies and plans are expected at the council table.

Both strategies can be found online at the City website.

 

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