Supporting access to safe and affordable housing is a priority for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows-Katzie Community Network.
Our members are actively working to create additional affordable housing units and to connect people with available homes.
So what is affordable housing?
In Canada, housing is considered affordable if shelter costs account for less than 30 per cent of before-tax household income. Someone working full-time at $15 an hour earns $2,400 a month before tax. Shelter costs of $720 a month would be considered affordable in this situation.
There are many different types of housing – privately owned houses, condos and townhouses, rental apartments and houses, co-op housing developments and supportive housing facilities.
It’s the percentage of income that goes towards housing that determines if the standard of affordability is being met.
At current prices, many of the homes available to own or to rent in our community are unaffordable by this measure.
Young adults still attending school and working entry-level jobs, seniors on a fixed income or families headed by a single income earner might all struggle to find affordable housing.
Building homes creates jobs. The creation of new affordable homes reduces the demand for market housing and increases the vacancy rate so more homes are available. More affordable homes means fewer people becoming homeless.
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with a Community Services client willing to share his affordable housing story. He is a long-time Maple Ridge resident who owned a home in the community for many years. He went through a divorce and experienced some medical issues. The company he worked for was supportive, but, ultimately, he had to leave his job.
Unable to work, his options for housing changed. He spent the next 10 years living in a rented room. The environment he was living in was sometimes chaotic and he would retreat to his room and listen to music through headphones to try and find some peace.
His friend put him in touch with the Seniors Connect program coordinator, who searched listings and went with him on viewing appointments. The Seniors Connect coordinator supported him through the application process for an apartment and arranged for a subsidy through Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters subsidy offered by B..C Housing to assist seniors renting in the private market.
In just a few days, he was moving into his new place and starting a new phase in his life.
All levels of government have acknowledged the lack of affordable housing in our area and plans to provide more housing are in the works. Connect with the Community Network via email at email@example.com or by calling 778-242-3359.
The network meets on the second Tuesday of each month from 1–3 p.m. in the Fraser Room at the Maple Ridge library.
– Sunny Schiller is coordinator of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows-Katzie Community Network.