The City of Penticton hosted an Affordable Housing Forum Wednesday, gathering experts and stakeholders for an exchange of ideas.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said the idea was to bring together housing providers, developers and other interested parties in hopes of getting them to share best practices and maybe get motivated to try a different approach.
“That is what we are trying to see as an end result. That may help create a new project or two, or a new perspective on how we can address housing affordability in Penticton,” said Jakubeit.
The forum featured talks like keynote speaker Jill Atkey, managing director of the B.C. Non-profit Housing Association and representatives from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, B.C. Housing and FortisBC along with City of Penticton planning manager Blake Laven and Coun. Judy Sentes.
Luke Stack, executive director of the Society of Hope, was also on the podium, delivering a talk on the five-year process of taking an affordable housing project from concept to grand opening.
Atkey painted a somewhat bleak picture of the housing situation in B.C. right now, with an estimated 7,000 people living on the streets and a need for more than 100,000 units of market housing to make up the slack from 25 years of the federal government not investing in social housing.
“There are 80,000 units that should have been built over the last couple of decades and weren’t,” said Atkey, explaining the supply backlog has led to a “missing middle.”
“More and more middle-income earners are being squeezed out of even the rental market now,” she said. “So, 80,000 units there and then another 35,000 units to handle population growth around the province. So, 115,000 units required over the next ten years.“
Jakubeit said bringing people together at the forum, which included representatives from other Okanagan communities dealing with the same problem, was the first step.
“On its own, it might seem like a daunting task that touches on social and economic factors that are greater than our community has the realm of influence to change. But working together, we can make some inroads,” said Jakubeit.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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