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Partnerships for affordable housing: an examination of the barriers faced by municipalities and the non-profit housing sector Garnett, Lee-Ann Gail


The changes in housing policy during the 1990s has been profound. With federal funds for non-market housing no longer available, the Province of British Columbia has attempted to involve municipalities to a greater extent in meeting the housing needs in their communities. However, this has proved to be an immense challenge for many municipalities. Nevertheless, many have reported that they use, or in the future will use, partnerships with other organizations to obtain more affordable housing in their communities. Specifically, partnering with non-profit housing organizations is seen as one means of achieving this. The non-profit organizations, too, find building more affordable housing a challenge, and are interested in working with municipalities where possible. The intent of this research, then, is to analyze the relationships between local governments in B.C. and non-profit societies, and identify some of the barriers that each party faces. The research also examines the roles of some of the other participants in affordable housing. For municipalities, the barriers faced by them to enter housing partnerships are great. A lack of resources, the absence of staff dedicated to housing issues, the lack of staff expertise required to analyze complex housing partnerships, and a lack of commitment on the part of politicians all contribute to the difficulties in having these agreements. The non-profit housing groups also face deterrents, such as small staff sizes, few resources, in some cases, little expertise in development, or ageing board members who do not wish to build new housing. These barriers, however, are not insurmountable, and recommendations are provided to overcome them. It is important to realize that although housing partnerships can be a very effective tool, they are just one of many that municipalities use to meet the housing needs in their communities. Ultimately, housing needs will best be met by having all levels of government, the private and non-profit sectors working together towards common goals.

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