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Affordable housing solutions needed for increased demand in Saskatoon: experts

Click to play video: 'Affordable housing solutions needed for increased demand in Saskatoon: experts' Affordable housing solutions needed for increased demand in Saskatoon: experts
WATCH: With many people facing financial challenges recently, a non-profit organization says there has been an increased demand for affordable housing in Saskatoon – Nov 5, 2020

With a slowed-down economy and the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have faced financial challenges.

These challenges have also created more of a demand in affordable housing, according to some experts.

Read more: Some concerns about Saskatoon housing project flagged as biased, exclusive

The National Affordable Housing Corporation (NAHC) launched an online solutions centre addressing  what changes can be made to ensure affordable housing is meeting the level of demand in Saskatchewan.

The organization has helped hundreds in Saskatoon find affordable housing. The most recent units are being built are in Willowgrove, with six families moving there in the near future.

It said demand continues to rise. Rent in the city has gradually gone up alongside demand, particularly for family homes.

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“That’s in the three bedroom range in good locations in Saskatoon. That vacancy rate is south of 1 per cent right now,” Alan Wallace, NAHC municipal housing specialist said.

Read more: ‘We’re still in crisis’: USask researchers to unpack affordable housing efficacy

Wallace said one of the largest challenges is competing with others pricing at market value. However, he said there are solutions — some which wouldn’t add financial strain to the city.

“What we would like to do is bring forward more creative ideas for the acquisition of land. It’s about perhaps deferring payments and perhaps using land as a leverage towards a project. It’s about getting creative with the financing,” Wallace suggested.

While Wallace believes the city has been a leader in many ways, he also said there’s more that can be done municipally.

“We just noticed that particular topic hasn’t really risen yet to the extent to people’s consciousness but it needs to be a priority within the local government,” Wallace said.

Read more: Coronavirus: Community rallies to help Saskatoon youth shelter feed kids and their families

EGADZ helps young families through a variety of affordable housing initiatives and programming. Executive director Don Miekle has seen the demand for affordable housing in Saskatoon, saying it can be challenging for those aging out of EGADZ programming to find support.

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He adds community support for these initiatives would go a long way.

“We as a community need to get together and say we’re going to take some affordable housing here and we’re going to have purposes of all these different houses,” Meikle said.

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42% of Saskatchewan renters spending more than 30% of income on shelter: report – Sep 18, 2019

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