The Salvation Army is requesting $10,000 from the District of Vanderhoof for an updated housing study. TSA has formed Vanderhoof Community Housing Partnership, which has 20 stakeholders from the community actively looking to solve the housing issue in the District, said Roy Spooner, community ministries supervisor for TSA.
Spooner made a presentation to council on April 8, during the regular public meeting held at the municipal office. TSA had gone as a delegation to council, with several stakeholders of the Vanderhoof Community Housing Partnership (VCHP) present for the meeting.
Spooner said at VCHP’s December meeting, Mayor Gerry Thiessen had identified that it would be best if there was a group from the community, committed to addressing the housing concern expressed by the community. He said VCHP was developed as a response to that suggestion.
The fee to have UNBC CDI do the 2019-Vanderhoof Community Housing Study is $25,000. Spooner said, VCHP has raised $10,000, and are committed to raise an additional $5,000.
During his presentation, Spooner said when TSA was encouraged to open operations in Vanderhoof, people identified the housing issue as one of the priorities that could be uniquely tackled by them.
He said, there has been concern about housing in Vanderhoof for not only seniors, but low income individuals and families, one to two person households, individuals and families seeking single family housing, and young professionals who want to move to the District.
Spooner said to council that there are seniors who have to live in the hospital for extended duration, because of the lack of affordable housing. He added, that he knew of young professionals who would like to call Vanderhoof home, but are unable to move due to the sheer lack of housing options.
So as a result of this concern, Spooner said that TSA encouraged and worked together with over 20 like-minded people, community organizations and local businesses, who want to actively tackle the housing crisis.
This group as explained by Spooner, has met between the summer of 2018 and Christmas, to discuss and provide individual and organizational perceptions and opinions.
Vanderhoof had done a housing study and needs analysis in the summer of 2015, and Spooner said this study was reviewed by the group and found to be very helpful. But the review led to the conclusion that, in order to effectively respond to the concern, they need to have current data as the foundation of a plan.
VCHP met with the authors of the 2015 housing study in December, and the meeting resulted in the agreement that the 2015 DOV housing study be updated.
The group further agreed, that the plan should seek to find a solution for a decade and that research should forecast challenges and solutions for 10 years.
Spooner said VCHP requested and received a proposal from UNBC Community Development Institute to “update and extend the 2015 DOV Housing study and Needs Analysis.”
The main of the 2019 study will be “to explore the factors that will influence housing need and demand in Vanderhoof over the next decade and develop conclusions and recommendations about the number and timing of housing units needed between 2020 and 2030 to house people in various segments of the market,” as per Spooner’s submission to council.
He said this study will give direction for not-for-profit organizations with capacity and commitment to provide housing.
“It will do the same for private developers who see the merit of building what the community needs rather than going off in another direction. These results will be sound market research ideally supported by the DOV, which will assist various housing developers to secure funding from appropriate sources,” he said.
“Our approach is founded in the truth that - it is easier to solve a problem once you have understood and accepted the problem,” read Spooner’s submission to council.
After the presentation ended, Councillor Frenkel suggested that Spooner have a look at the 2018 housing study done by the province, as it provides the same answers he felt VCHP were looking for.
Spooner responded by saying that he would have a look at the provincial housing study, but the aim of VCHP is to create a model for housing needs for the next decade, tailored to the needs of Vanderhoof.
Council have not added $10,000 for TSA in the 2019 budget. During a special meeting held April 9, councillors discussed TSA’s request. Councillors were hesitant about giving $10,000 to TSA, as they felt that the 2015 housing study was done not too long ago. And that people in Vanderhoof would not be happy that the District was spending on another housing study within three years.
Mayor and council are scheduled to discuss Spooner’s request later this month during their regular public meeting.