The Affordable Housing Committee turned to Council to get a Housing Needs Assessment report completed. This report would provide an unbiased and full-spectrum overview of the housing needs in Sooke, ranging from homelessness to rentals to home ownership. Initially, it will provide direction to Sooke, for the municipality as well as any special interest groups working on housing matters. Eventually, it will be required by the province (see Bill 18, first reading).
The Affordable Housing Committee had earlier requested up to $10,000 for a Housing Needs Assessment. On examining similar completed assessments and looking at the scope of information needed, the committee members determined that more funds were needed, and modified that amount to be up to $35,000. See the full Housing Needs Assessment Council Report for details.
Councillor Ebony Logins, chair of the Affordable Housing Committee, presented an overview of the Affordable Housing Committee. The study, which will give a comprehensive overview of housing gaps and needs in Sooke, would be the starting point for any work that needs to be done. Staff added that these types of Housing Needs Assessment are going to be par for the course to access any future provincial housing funding, and getting this done now puts Sooke ahead of the curve. The report will need to be refreshed every five years. Funds would be drawn from the housing reserve fund. Currently there is $113K in the fund.
Spokesperson for the Committee, Lorna Clark, noted it would take 6-8 months to get the study completed. Staff noted it could take up to a month for the RFP to be prepared, and it will then be posted for up to 30 days. If there are no or limited responses, the posting period could be extended. Lorna added that if we don’t act quickly, Sooke will fall into the lump of long waiting communities who will also soon be seeking to get a similar study done.
Members of the Committee added to discussion. One noted that affordable (with it’s definition set at 30% of one’s income) is different than attainable and suggested a future name change from Affordable Housing Committee to simply Housing Committee. A member of the public added that losing the Habitat for Humanity was a sad loss for soon, and hoped that whatever roadblocks it encountered could be addressed.
With all committees ending on the dissolution of the previous council (standard process), there was also a request for this committee to continue its work in principle until such a time that the new Council re-establishes committees, which would be some time in the new year. At this time, should the Housing Committee be continued, a new call for membership would be issued.
The following motions were unanimously approved by Council:
THAT Council rescind Resolution 2018-439;
THAT the Affordable Housing Committee recommend Council set aside a budget for an affordable housing needs assessment to meet the provincial requirement after the release of the Affordable Housing Assessment Guide;
AND THAT the funding, up to $10,000 for the affordable housing needs assessment are allocated from Bylaw No. 259, Housing Reserve Fund Establishment Bylaw, 2006.
THAT Council direct staff to issue an RFP for a Housing Needs Assessment in accordance with provincial guidelines;
AND THAT Council allocate up to $35,000 for the Housing Needs Assessment with funding to come from the Housing Reserve Fund.
THAT Council in principle continue an Affordable Housing Committee, until new terms of reference have been submitted;
AND THAT Council make housing a priority in the upcoming Strategic Plan.
All present: Mayor Maja Tait and Councillors Tony St. Pierre, Brenda Parkinson, Megan McMath, Ebony Logins, Al Beddows, Jeff Bateman.
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