The UBC Housing Research Collaborative, led by my PhD supervisor Penny Gurstein, has developed three tools: the first is a tool called HART (housing assessment research tools), a census-based tool that measures household cost, with 13 partner governments across Canada. Their second tool assesses the land available for affordable housing. And their third tool is a property acquisition tool, and helps governments, non-profits, and community land trusts acquire existing affordable housing.
Craig Jones gave an overview of HART, a Canada-wide, equity needs focused assessment tool that can be used by any community across the country using Census data. In Canada, about 2.1% of households are very low income (up to 20% of area median income, with 41.7% in the very high income (121+% of AMHI). The moderate (51-80% of AMHA) and median income (81-120% of AMHA) categories are at 18.4% and 21.3% respectively. By clicking on their interactive map, users can select their city, and the statistics show up below in graphs and tables. You can see the percentage in core housing need, a table that shows the deficit in affordable housing by income category. They ordered data from Statistics Canada to show priority population and income categories for all the communities in their sample. You can also compare two communities, or compare the city to its county/region. However, for very small communities (they used Bridgewater, NS) some data is suppressed so that individual households can’t be identified. In this case, it might work to look at Lunenberg County. You can also compare the municipal population growth rate with its region, and advanced users can download the data with Excel to do their own analyses.
Cameron Power reviewed the HART Land Assessment Tool which helps governments identify lands to be used for affordable housing, like surplus land sites which can be leased to non-profits (Vancouver recently did this with the BC Community Land Trust, and Ottawa has made a similar move). They partnered with 12 governments across Canada to compile the comprehensive inventory of land owned by all levels of government, then ruled out any lands in environmentally protected areas, industrial areas or other unsuitable locations. They mapped the ones that scored higher on proximity to amenities (e.g. child care centres, parks, grocery stores). Several of the cities are now live, and others will be added soon. You can filter by level of government and see the information on each land parcel. The problem is that a lot of the data researchers used costs large amounts of money, so that is a barrier to broadening the tool for use across the country.
Joe Daniels worked on the Property Acquisitions Tool. There were something like 553,176 units affordable to low-income people were lost from 2011-2021, though it’s difficult to estimate. The tool aims to identify and remove existing affordable rental housing from the private market and transfer it to non-profits, co-ops, and community land trusts. They’re currently looking at acquisition strategies in other jurisdictions and have created a map-based database, and will be releasing a report soon with their recommendations for governments wanting to develop acquisitions programs, and six H0w-to Guides for taking their best practices into action.
Representatives from two of the organizations on the HART advisory committee (Erin Black from the City of Edmonton and Sahar Raza from the National Right to Housing Network) were also present to discuss their roles in the project and the impact that has resulted from the use of HART.
Check out hart.ubc.ca for more details and to use the tools!