City of Trail hands out cash for housing

LCCDTS was able to coerce $2,500 for a sustainable housing request from City Hall, one third of what they had asked for.

Ask and you shall (mostly) receive.

The Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society (LCCDTS) was able to coerce $2,500 for a sustainable housing request from City Hall, one third of what they had asked for.

The society had originally requested city council approval for an annual grant in aide in the range of $7,500 in anticipation of a joint call for proposals by the Columbia Basin Trust and B.C. Housing this spring.

Janet Morton, chair of the LCCDT attainable housing committee making the request, asked the city to demonstrate its commitment to a proposed housing project for the city with an annual grant in aide equivalent to the value of property taxes paid by each of the six units that will be located in Trail.

“In responding to this call, we are proposing to assist the city address the objective of affordable housing contained in the Official Community Plan,” she said in a Jan. 11 letter to Mayor Dieter Bogs.

The society assumed a maximum of six units of housing would be located in Trail at an average taxation rate of $1,500 per unit. The total amount of the request is expected to be an expense that would come into effect once properties are purchased, likely in the fall of 2013.

“However, council has recognized that there will be a time delay until they can acquire any properties,” said city corporate administrator Michelle MacIsaac, and a lower amount was approved by the city’s governance and operations committee.

The recently completed housing needs assessment study and strategic plan identified a significant need for increased units of affordable rental housing in the region.

In Trail alone there are 680 households (rental and owned) considered to be in housing need. That number is based on the measure of housing need being households paying more than 30 per cent of gross income on housing, excluding utilities.

Of the households in Trail in housing need, 435 are in rental housing units.

In July the housing needs assessment study found Greater Trail’s housing market had minimal diversity, aging infrastructure and was in poor condition, placing the region far behind the provincial average and unable to meet the needs of its residents, as well as new people looking to relocate.

The study also found the percentage of Greater Trail’s housing stock to be double the provincial average in age (over 40 years of age), and in poorer condition than the provincial average.

The study highlighted an increased need for seniors’ housing—both market housing and subsidized housing—and modernizing homes currently owned by seniors. By 2021, 25.5 per cent of the local population will be seniors.

There was also an identified need to address affordable rental housing for people who were low income because of the significant number of people—40.1 per cent of rental households—in the region with that core housing need.