Healthy Housing Strategy approved by Kelowna city council

Plan aims to address issues of affordability and availability in city’s housing supply

Minutes after approving an ambitious plan to address homelessness in the city over the next five years, Kelowna council also gave the nod to a strategy aimed at addressing the overall issue of housing Monday.

The city’s Healthy Housing Strategy was approved unanimously and contains four directions the city says it wants to move in to address housing the issues of affordability and availability moving forward.

• Promoting and protecting rental housing

• Improving housing affordability and reducing barriers for affordable housing

• Building what the city says is the right supply and type of housing

• Strengthening partnerships and aligning investments

Related story: Kelowna facing serious housing challenge

Policy planning manager Danielle Noble-Brandt told council housing affordability has been cited by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities as the number one concern of Canadians.

And she said Kelowna is facing a housing crisis with the cost of property skyrocketing and a very low rental vacancy rate. It is currently estimated at just 0.02 per cent.

She said she has heard stories of families living in cars and refusing to seek assistance because they are scared their children will be taken from them and put into care because of their living situation.

“The Healthy Housing Strategy is a direct response to these critical issues,” she said.

Planner James Moore outlined the plan, which has 19 recommended actions including building new forms of housing, which the city calls the “missing middle.”

They would be alternatives to the typical single detached home and could include townhouses, apartments, four-plexs and other styles.

The plan was created in collaboration with Interior Health, as it has been shown housing plays a direct part in the health of the population.

As with the Journey Home strategy addressing homelessness, the Health Housing Strategy is a five-year plan that will rely heavily on partnerships, innovation and collaboration.

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