Op­por­tu­nity to trans­form hous­ing is now: Mayor Hep­ner

The Miracle - - Town News -

By:Oliver Lum

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Man­ager Sur­rey – There is an un­prece­dented fo­cus on timely and nec­es­sary hous­ing ini­tia­tives on the hori­zon for the City of Sur­rey. The Sur­rey Home­less­ness and Hous­ing So­ci­ety, cre­ated in 2007 with cap­i­tal from the City’s Af­ford­able Hous­ing Re­serve Fund, has re­cently an­nounced the al­lo­ca­tion of 1 mil­lion for in­no­va­tive hous­ing project pro­pos­als. In the re­cent bud­get update, the provin­cial govern­ment has an­nounced new fund­ing for both af­ford­able rental and sup­port­ive hous­ing and the City is ac­tively work­ing with the Prov­ince to se­cure ur­gently re­quired sup­port­ive hous­ing units for those most in need. Ad­di­tion­ally, the fed­eral govern­ment’s ex­pected fall launch of a Na­tional Hous­ing Strat­egy (NHS) is a once in a gen­er­a­tion op­por­tu­nity to trans­form af­ford­able hous­ing in Canada.

“Safe, af­ford­able hous­ing is the bedrock of the live­able, com­pet­i­tive cities we as­pire to build. Yet, a mil­lion and half Cana­dian house­holds can’t ac­cess a de­cent home they can af­ford and some 235,000 will ex­pe­ri­ence home­less­ness this year. Hous­ing has be­come less af­ford­able at vir­tu­ally ev­ery in­come level,” said Mayor Hep­ner a mem­ber of the Fed­er­a­tion of Cana­dian Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties’ Big City May­ors’ Cau­cus (BCMC). The BCMC has laid out de­tailed so­lu­tions to Canada’s af­ford­able hous­ing cri­sis in their sub­mis­sion to the fed­eral govern­ment: Na­tional Hous­ing Strat­egy: Get­ting it Right, which calls for Ot­tawa to pri­or­i­tize re­pair­ing and build­ing new af­ford­able and social hous­ing and to lever­age lo­cal in­no­va­tion to en­sure long-term sus­tain­abil­ity. “The fed­eral govern­ment is lis­ten­ing and have re­sponded in Bud­get 2017 with a pledge of 15 bil­lion for the NHS. Get­ting the Strat­egy right is the crit­i­cal next step. And while our sug­ges­tions are ex­ten­sive, our core rec­om­men­da­tions comes down to com­mon sense,” added Mayor Hep­ner. The fed­eral agree­ments that de­vel­oped much of Canada’s 600,000 social hous­ing homes didn’t ad­e­quately ac­count for longterm re­pairs, and to­day’s non-profit providers gen­er­ally lack the rev­enue to sup­port fi­nanc­ing to get them done. In Sur­rey’s case, the City did not sig­nif­i­cantly ben­e­fit from the na­tion-wide fed­eral in­vest­ments in social hous­ing that ended in the early 1990s, prior to Sur­rey’s trans­for­ma­tion into a ma­jor ur­ban cen­tre. In the last 25 years, the pop­u­la­tion has more than dou­bled and con­tin­ues to ex­pand at a rapid rate. There is a press­ing need for new social and af­ford­able hous­ing stock in Sur­rey, and in Metro Van­cou­ver. “We are at an in­ter­sec­tion of mu­tual agree­ment across gov­ern­ments and sec­tors on the paramount im­por­tance of hous­ing. This is a unique op­por­tu­nity to set the ta­ble right for decades to come and we be­lieve that re­mark­able progress is pos­si­ble. Sur­rey is ready to bring our lo­cal ex­per­tise to the ta­ble and play a mean­ing­ful role, in part­ner­ship with all or­ders of govern­ment, to en­sure we get it right,” said Mayor Hep­ner. The City of Sur­rey is a mem­ber of the Fed­er­a­tion of Cana­di­ans Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties’ (FCM) Big City May­ors’ Cau­cus (BCMC). BCMC rep­re­sents 22 of Canada’s big­gest cities, of­fer­ing a fo­rum for pol­icy de­vel­op­ment on a range of is­sues af­fect­ing our largest cen­tres. Through FCM, the may­ors’ cau­cus part­ners with the fed­eral govern­ment in na­tion-build­ing through city-build­ing.

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