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Steering committee established to address Coast housing crisis

Committee seeks to hire regional housing coordinator

Local governments, not-for-profits and other groups are continuing to build on an emergency housing meeting held in March.

During a follow-up meeting held April 19, participants voted in a “provisional” steering committee, and have turned to the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) and taxes from accommodations to hire a regional housing coordinator.

An emergency housing meeting was convened in March by Sechelt Coun. Matt McLean, bringing 25 organizations together to establish a call to action document, since endorsed by local governments, numerous affordable housing groups, the Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Organization (SCREDO) and others.

At the April 19 meeting, McLean also presented the organizational structure for a proposed Sunshine Coast Housing Action Table, overseen by the steering committee, and which he said was developed “to help us move as quickly as possible.”

The table would not be run by local governments, he said. Terms of reference for the action table have yet to be finalized.

The Implementation Framework that followed last October’s Sunshine Coast Housing Needs Assessment Report would be used “as the launching point” for the group.

Among the steering committee’s first tasks is selecting a host organization “through a transparent and open request for proposals,” said McLean, to hire a housing program manager.

The contract would be valued at $86,000 for the first year, which McLean proposed could be funded using revenue from the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) – a two per cent tax applied to hotels and other short-term accommodations on the Sunshine Coast.

The program manager would help the action table with action items approved by the steering committee, said McLean.

“The whole goal of this structure is to provide paid capacity to initiatives that have previously been done off the side of someone’s desk,” he said.

SCRD directors gave initial approval for staff to move ahead and explore options for collaborating with the steering committee at an April 22 board meeting, as they move ahead with an application to Destination BC to use $86,000 in MRDT funding “to engage with an individual or agency to perform as a regional housing coordinator for a fixed period of time and budget.”

Next steps for implementation and the status of the proposal are expected to be presented at the SCRD’s May 20 planning committee.

The steering committee’s five directors are: Mike Alsop, president of the Sunshine Coast Affordable Housing Society; Sechelt resident Amanda Burton, who has been working as an advocate with a poverty reduction advisory committee; Catherine Leach, executive director for Sunshine Coast Community Services Society; Micki McCartney, regional director for Capilano University’s kálax-ay Sunshine Coast Campus; and Colin Stansfield, executive director with SCREDO.