In a council meeting earlier this week, MONCTON city councils approved a guideline to prioritize the development of affordable housing projects.
At its full committee meeting in December last year, the Council recommended ratifying the policy entitled “Affordable Housing – Priority-Setting Policy for Development”. The directive comes into force in March.
Andrew Smith, a senior city planner in charge of the policy, says the policy “potentially” could reduce application review time for affordable housing projects “if there is a queue.”
Smith says an affordable housing project application will be a priority for the municipal departments involved, including economic development, town planning, construction inspection, and engineering and environmental services
“If there is a queue for a certain number of applications, that takes precedence, but overall we do not expect any adverse impact on service levels or overall impact given the expected volume of applications to come,” he said.
Though Smith says there isn’t often a queue, the policy would also serve as an in-kind benefit from the city.
“That has certainly been taken into account when developing this policy, the fact that it is a contribution in kind that will allow additional resources to be mobilized,” he said.
“The affordable housing advocate can use this confirmation letter to drive increased funding through other types of government funding programs such as the CMHC Co-Investment Fund, which is based on partnerships between the three levels of government.”
Politics should help to strengthen the supply of affordable housing in the city.
For the purposes of the Policy, affordable housing refers to residential units that are rented at 80 percent or less of the average market rent, as defined in the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s annual rental market report.
The average rental in Greater Moncton rose 3.6 percent to $ 794, according to the latest report from the CMHC. In the meantime, the vacancy rate has fallen to 2.7 percent, which indicates a tighter supply market than in the entire province.
Policy is one of the action items under the Moncton Community Implementation Plan for Affordable Housing, which was adopted last year. It applies to construction projects that comprise at least five affordable units or where at least 30 percent of the building is affordable units.
A $ 3.2 million affordable housing and community center project from the John Howard Society of Southeastern New Brunwick and Visions United Church is an example of developments that can benefit from the directive. Likewise, a condominium in line with the market with at least five affordable units. Shelters are also covered by this policy.
“Anything with a government subsidy for a unit or even something like a nursing home that caters to supportive or temporary housing needs – that could also fall under this policy,” said Smith.
However, that policy is only part of Moncton’s plans to increase the stock of affordable housing, Smith said.
“There are other implementation points under the Affordable Housing Plan that need to be implemented as well, but this is certainly an important step in the process,” said Smith.
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