Mayor’s corner What’s happening in public housing

Councillor Julie Brandle
For Mayor Tyler Warman

My name is Julie Brandle and I am a Town Councillor and also the Chair of the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Housing Authority (LSLRHA). Mayor Warman, allowed me to hijack his Mayor’s Blog to relay some accurate information on a project that may happen in our community.

LSLRHA manages government-owned low-income rental units in Slave Lake and Smith, providing homes for over 550 individuals or families. The LSLRHA portfolio consists of family housing units in Slave Lake and in Smith, mixed income units, seniors’ apartments in Slave lake and in Smith as well as the Vanderwell Lodge.

· The group has been working for the past three years, looking at our current portfolio and analyzing how we can meet the community housing needs, to better and more efficiently spend funding allocated to us from the Alberta Government. LSLRHA, along with the support of Tri-council, in 2016 hired a consultant to gather information about the non-market housing options in the Slave Lake Region and help us set the future direction for our organization.

From these reports we had requested assistance from the Alberta Government. In March of this year we received the go -ahead to further explore the possibilities of building new energy-efficient units. This approval was based on several concepts LSLRHA put forward. (concepts only).

We are not at that stage by any means, but before we go to the community asking for feedback, LSLRHA is putting several options together. The options will include details to help everyone make an informed decision moving forward, addressing things like possible property options, how many units will fit on specific piece of land, construction methods and much more. Once this information is in place, LSLRHA will be engaging the community for their input.

Although this process has not been approved, we understand that community input is important as to allow full and thoughtful discussions and comments- both positive and negative! This is a great opportunity for our region, so we want to make sure we have the details in place so we can have that informed discussion as a community.

Some information we can share right now:

· At this point nothing is in stone, no agreements have been signed, no land has been purchased. LSLRHA has approval to explore!
· Anything new in the community will not be a homelessness or Housing 1st program. LSLRHA does not have the funding to deliver that type of program.
· LSLRHA will not proceed without community imput.
· If the majority of the community is against the plans we present, LSLRHA will change to best meet the needs of the community.
· LSLRHA has a shortage of two bedroom units to help low to moderate income people
· LSLRHA will not displace or kick out any current tenants that still qualify if a new building is constructed.
· LSLRHA will not be building any market rent units. (In this context, “market” means 10 per cent below what everyone else calls Market).
· We are being asked to look at the possibility of seacan modular construction and understand its pros and cons before proceeding.
· The town of Slave Lake, MD of Opportunity or the MD of Lesser Slave River will not be asked for funding for operating or capital
· As much as LSLRHA is involving all regional governments in the process, it is the LSLRHA that is taking the lead role, and not the Town of Slave Lake.

Some of the questions LSLRHA is currently struggling with;

· How much social housing is too much in a community?
· What are the pros and cons of a mixed income model?
· What is the best mix of bedroom sizes-1,2 and 3 bedroom units?
· LSLRHA needs to make sure our clients have close proximity to place of work, access to schools and the basic shopping needs.
· What type and location will best fit with the town of Slave Lake’s future direction?
· What are the needs going to be in 10 years?
· How do we address NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) and still ensure we have everyone’s best interest at heart?
· We welcome anyone wishing to find out more to contact our CAO Lindsay Pratt, at 780-523-8518.

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