Housing corp. consults on action plan

The Yukon Housing Corporation hosted a forum yesterday to brainstorm the government's promised housing action plan.

The Yukon Housing Corporation hosted a forum yesterday to brainstorm the government’s promised housing action plan.

The plan was to bring together governments, industry, organizations and activists to come up with ideas to help Yukoners get better access to housing, regardless of their level of need.

Close to 100 people showed up for the full-day event to provide their input.

“People walked in the door with passion, they spent the day with passion, and I think there’s a commitment to continue on with that,” said Pamela Hine, president of the Yukon Housing Corporation, in her closing remarks.

At the end of the day, participants had a chance to summarize their conversations for the wider audience.

Whitehorse City Councillor John Streicker presented on behalf of a group that was talking about solutions for affordable housing.

He spoke to using education to help people manage their expectations about what sort of accommodation and how much space they really require.

One audience member was not so sure that would solve the problem.

“I just moved here, and my expectation was that the vacancy rate was low, and that I was going to spend a lot of money to not get very much. So I don’t know how I could lower my expectations further.”

The audience erupted with laughter.

For the afternoon, participants had broke off into five groups, each tasked with coming up with solutions for people at different places on the housing continuum.

The groups discussed assisted, supportive, social and affordable housing, and also home ownership.

Assisted housing means accommodations where a high level of support is required, such as a continuing care facility.

Supportive housing refers to situations where some level of support is required, as may be the case for some people with a cognitive disability.

Social housing means subsidized accommodations for people who cannot afford a place to live at market rates.

Affordable housing generally refers to rental housing and the challenges associated with ensuring that accommodations are appropriate and affordable for those who need it.

And home ownership, of course, deals with the challenges associated with getting people into their own private residences.

Many of the groups spoke to the need for better education, and also better collaboration between different groups.

For example, one speaker noted that while the City of Whitehorse has removed minimum footprints for houses from its bylaws, the financial community still won’t offer mortgages for tiny homes.

Streicker suggested a housing leadership council to work towards better communication between stakeholders on an ongoing basis.

“One of the things that we really like is this room,” he said. “We like the energy that’s here, because people are coming from across the board. We think this is a big issue, so we think that we need more of this, more often.”

Kristina Craig with the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition said she was happy to see the housing corporation reaching out to co-ordinate different groups and stakeholders.

“Unless everybody is on the same page, it’s pretty hard to make progress.”

Mary Cameron, a director with the housing corporation, said that the organization hopes to produce a housing action plan document for discussion by next fall.

But the plan will be flexible, and will adapt and change as required. Some actions are already underway, she said.

Participants were asked to volunteer for working groups that will continue to develop the ideas that came out the forum.

There has been a lot of expressed interest in continuing with the work, said Cameron.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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