It is always nice to be recognized, especially when they want you to share your success with counterparts across the country. This happened last week in Edmonton when Winnipeg’s Housing Opportunity Partnership (HOP) was invited to speak on a panel at the 46th National Congress on Housing and Homelessness.
The Canadian Housing Renewal Association’s (CHRA) congress brought together over 450 delegates from every province and territory, representing urban and rural municipalities, all three levels of government, researchers and housing providers to share information, exchange ideas, and hear from some of Canada’s leading experts in the field of affordable housing.
HOP president Lori Thorsteinson along with past-president Peter Squire spoke in a panel discussion titled: Enabling Safe and Inclusive Neighbourhoods through Housing.
As neighbourhoods change over time, they may become less accessible to lower-income residents or, conversely, may lose their vibrancy as amenities or residents move away. In other cases, entirely new neighbourhoods are formed when existing land is repurposed. No matter the context, housing is the lever often used so that neighbourhoods remain or become inclusive and healthy places for residents.
The HOP model was presented as a WinnipegREALTORS®-led initiative supporting the regeneration of Winnipeg’s West End neighbourhoods through an affordable homeownership program. Since HOP’s inception, 87 families have achieved their dream of homeownership through the program thanks to a unique partnership with the government of Manitoba.
Thorsteinson and Squire told the delegates about how dramatic the improvement has been in house values since HOP began reclaiming homes in 1998. In the West End neighbourhoods that HOP has been active in for many years, the average house price has gone up 544 per cent. This is well ahead of other neighbourhoods in Winnipeg. It was even reported earlier this year that in the latest 2014 reassesssment, the inner city (includes the West End) saw the biggest assessment increase of any other area of the city.
At the Edmonton congress, Shane Ramsey, CEO of BC Housing presented an overview of an ambitious Downtown Eastside Area Redevelopment Plan, which is expected to support the development of market and below-market multi-family housing and commercial space to support a diverse, vibrant mixed income community.
Former developer Mark Hall, and current executive director of Blatchford Redevelopment for the city of Edmonton, shared plans for the creation of a new sustainable community on the former site of the downtown Edmonton Airport.
Manitoba Housing Minister Peter Bjornson and Winnipeg Councillor Mike Pagtakhan were in Edmonton to announce Winnipeg as host city for CHRA’s 47th Congress in 2015. It is the expectation that tours showcasing some of the exciting housing projects in Winnipeg will be offered.
The congress presented a CHRA Community Builder Award to Clark Brownlee, the local head of the Right to Housing Coalition. HOP vice-president and CHRA board of director Linda Ring presented the award to Brownlee. He was singled out as a strong advocate for social housing and creating awareness of important housing issues to the public and all levels of government.