Opinion today: Buy and build | Opinion | ABnews24

Fri, February 21, 2020
Opinion today: Buy and build
Jamie Larkin: The Birthplace of Confederation is failing its most vulnerable - seniors and students. I am aware that some residents are sleeping under trees while others are living in their cars. There are solutions.
The province and the city could partner to form a housing trust and purchase large blocks of affordable housing. This will protect them and keep them affordable.
Cities such as Vienna, Austria and Whistler, B.C. have successfully averted a housing crisis by establishing a housing trust. Now there is sufficient affordable housing in these cities that allow locals to live there and still remain a vibrant tourist city.
With a housing trust in place and blocks of affordable housing protected, residents all over the city can breathe a sigh of relief from the fear of being ‘reno-victed’ as their apartments are purchased and 60-day notices are given to complete renovations. Once these renovations are completed, rents in some cases are doubled.
By purchasing and protecting current affordable housing, this will allow time for the new affordable housing to be built.
The city and province could also work together to form a housing strategy that our grandchildren and their grandchildren will thank us for. A strategy based on a combination of intelligent planning and market solutions, such as building housing close to public transit to save people the expense of owning a car.
It is important that local housing responds to local incomes, not vague market demand, driven by investors as we are seeing currently here in Charlottetown.
As mentioned I am a fan of the Vienna housing trust model, where 30 per cent of one's household income is charged for rent.
Vienna owns and manages 25 per cent of the city's housing stock and also indirectly controls another 20 per cent. This 20 per cent are units built and owned by very limited, for profit private developers.
Charlottetown and the province could closely evaluate land that it owns with-in city limits for the purpose of affordable and mixed housing. Once land has been identified, the city will solicit proposals from developers which will build and retain ownership, but developed through a city regulatory process.
Private developers work with the city to rent half of the new apartments to lower income residents and the other half to moderate income residents. Mix is key and essential to the long-term viability.
A jury of community stakeholders will evaluate the proposals based on a livability agenda.
A livability agenda will be innovative, progressive and demonstrate the city's commitment to affordable housing and housing choices.
Housing at its core is a basic human right. Charlottetown is at a tipping point and it is imperative that we get this right.
I believe that Charlottetown is the birthplace of good ideas and I have faith that council and the province working closely together can successfully solve the housing crisis and offer opportunity for all.
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