More thoughts on affordable housing
Updated: Oct 19, 2018
As of October 5th, the OCP of SCRD communities were amended to encourage more density housing, including townhouses and multi-unit buildings in community hubs. For the Coast Reporter article, click here. Before that, the only way that affordable housing was being encouraged in Roberts Creek was by letting land owners build more infill housing. Apparently only 10% of owners in the Creek have built the allowable 2nd dwelling on their property. It costs a lot of money to build a house these days. Building costs have been going up by 20% a year over the last few years. Rent increases have not kept pace with the increases in property prices and the cost of building. It is currently very difficult to build a new house on your property and collect enough rent to create a reasonable return on investment, not to mention cover any financing you may have taken out to build it.
With these OCP amendments some new possibilities are in sight.
Roberts Creek is a beautiful place to live and one of the reasons is that we live amongst nature. We enjoy a lot of privacy and as a friend of mine once said "One key requirement to any home I live in is that I can walk out my front door and take a piss." This is a great luxury to have. People in Europe, or most people in cities, don't know this luxury. But it is now becoming evident that this luxury is becoming unaffordable to some members of our community. We are having a hard time providing affordable housing for the young singles and couples, a key demographic for especially our service oriented businesses looking for employees. We also don't have adequate housing for those in our community that have mobility issues and/or reduced income in retirement. How tragic is it that you get torn out of the community and friends that you love because there is no place for you to live?
Solutions aren't easy. Partly because we don't want to part with that luxury of privacy. Partly because we don't want the look of an apartment block in the heart of the Creek. Here are some ideas:
A tiny home community
Tiny homes on a trailer are growing in demand and have many advantages.
They encourage minimalism, thereby reducing consumption.
They are affordable (approx. $60,000).
They are cheap to heat (small space).
They are mobile (circumvent zoning requirements).
Putting them into a small community seems like a good idea. A great place for young singles and couples to have their own four walls while still getting community and affordability.
Here are my concerns though:
All these trailers still need power, water, and septic. How is this handled?
Pipes freeze in winter. How is this handled?
Young people tend to move and there is a fair amount of transience. Who will care for the tiny homes and surroundings? How will you hold each other responsible for your space?
There is no place to gather in these homes. Should there be a community hall like the one in co-housing?
It's hard to make a tiny home accessible to those with mobility issues. These tiny homes are great for young people, and will have limited appeal for the elderly.
A multi-unit building
Apartment block. Has an ugly ring to it, doesn't it? Why?
They're usually not pretty
You share at least 2 walls with your neighbours
It would dominate the landscape
It's not "your own"
But here are some thoughts:
Let's put it out of sight, like co-housing, and nestle it in nature, with lots of green space around it.
Gives economies of scale on septic, water, power.
Can accommodate seniors with elevators, covered parking stalls.
Don't have to heat all your walls.
Add a common room for everyone.
Easy to set up a strata
We could call it multi-unit housing, and it would be 3-4 storeys max.
I think there are several ways to provide affordable housing, we just have to keep everyone's interest in mind. Do I think the tiny home community is a bad idea? No. As long as we think about it and implement the plan in a methodical way. Do I think a multi-unit building is a bad idea? Not necessarily. I would like to see a space that will accommodate the elderly and infirm and that will allow them to stay in their community.