The City of Colwood is exploring a pair of new partnerships which have the potential to enhance the community’s affordable housing resources.
At its Jan. 18 meeting, council directed staff to provide a report on the impacts of a partnership with Habitat for Humanity Victoria and the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria and to organize a workshop to discuss affordable housing options in Colwood.
“Colwood council is excited to roll up their sleeves in a workshop to confirm our community’s housing makeup, clarify needs, and explore a range of innovative options, including those recently presented by Habitat for Humanity and the Social Planning Council, to continue to take steps toward creating a diverse range of housing options for people at all ages and stages of life in Colwood,” said Mayor Rob Martin in an emailed statement.
Tiffany Gates, director of human resources and family services with Habitat for Humanity Victoria, said they are seeking a partnership with the city to help them continue to create as much affordable housing in the region as possible. She said with land prices as high as they are, the organization has become limited in what it is able to do on a budget based largely on donations, and the partnership would offer a potential solution.
“Partnering with municipalities and developers to deliver our affordable program is the way forward,” said Gates. “Somebody looking to do a multi-family housing development or a condo development, we would be a great partner for them.”
Gates said one example of how such a partnership could work is a recently completed Habitat build in Central Saanich. Because of the organization’s partnership with that municipality, they were able to have their build included in a developer’s plans as part of the approval process, allowing their money to go further and allowing the developer to meet affordable housing requirements set by the municipality.
She said such a partnership allows a municipality to grow its affordable housing stock while ensuring it will provide as great a benefit to the community as possible as it is managed and guided by Habitat’s experience.
Considering high land costs have left the organization with no active builds in the region at the moment, yet with thousands of applications for housing continuing to pour in each year, Gates said she is optimistic the partnership with Colwood will come to fruition, and they can start a project sooner rather than later.
The partnership with the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria would see the city contribute funding to establish a rent bank, similar to an existing regional rent bank for Greater Victoria. Such rent banks provide short-term financial help to low-to-moderate income households at risk of losing their housing due to a temporary financial crisis.
According to a letter to council from executive director Diana Gibson, the city’s partnership and funding for a Colwood rent bank would help bring in provincial funding from the BC Rent Bank.