Change can be a challenge for many people. When change is proposed in a neighbourhood or community, residents can be skeptical of, or even hostile towards, a new development. This phenomenon is often referred to as NIMBY, which is short for “not in my backyard”. The NIMBY phenomenon can be common for non-market housing developments due to some societal beliefs that non-market housing will have a negative effect on the character, socioeconomic status or quality of life in a neighbourhood.
Strategies to support the affordability of housing will generally fall into one of two categories. A municipality can build a regulatory environment that supports the long-term development of a diverse supply of housing types and/or it can invest financial resources to create incentives and partnerships that will lead to the development of dedicated non-market housing.
Know your target audience
One of the first steps a municipality can take is to understand its community in terms of the demographics that are in core housing need. It could be any number of groups such as youth, seniors, single parents, refugees, immigrants, or households with physical or mental disabilities that are struggling to maintain stable permanent housing. Knowing this information is important, as a municipality’s approach to housing support will be different depending on the target audience.
There are a variety of approaches that a municipality can take to address issues of housing affordability. Some municipalities may choose to invest their resources by advocating for support from the provincial and federal governments, others may focus their efforts on their local development policies, others may offer financial incentives to developers, or others may choose to build and operate their own housing facilities.
Alberta’s non-market housing system is comprised of a complex mix of owners and funding structures between non-profit organizations, private businesses and the federal, provincial and municipal governments. The Government of Alberta has primary responsibility for Alberta’s non-market housing system that provides housing at a reduced cost or with special supports for persons who because of financial, social or other circumstances are unable to obtain or maintain housing through the private market.
How can the cost of housing impact individuals and families?
If housing consumes too much of a household’s income, individuals or families can be forced to make difficult decisions that can affect their personal health. This may involve:
‘Affordable housing’ is a commonly used term but each person or organization can interpret its meaning differently. For the purposes of this hub, the term ‘affordable’ will be used as an overarching term that applies to all types of housing including standard market-based housing. Where there are references to housing that is commonly considered ‘social housing’ or government-subsidized housing, the term ‘non-market housing’ will be used except for instances where ‘social housing’ is the terminology used in legislation.