It has the feel of a war bond drive from the ’40s, and in many ways the latest initiative from the Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Organization (SCREDO) is a direct appeal to Sunshine Coast patriotism.
SCREDO, through This is the Coast, is encouraging people to become landlords and create a “Victory Suite” to help with the region’s long-term rental shortage.
This is the Coast was set up originally to attract new families and young professionals to the Coast (see Coast Reporter March 4, 2016), but SCREDO program manager Chris Hergesheimer said the bigger issue now is finding the people who want to move here a home.
“The reality is, I think, young people already want to come here. We don’t need to do a lot of work in terms of pulling them in and trying to sell the Coast,” he said. “They want to be here. They need a place to live.”
Another part of the equation, according to Hergesheimer, is growing businesses that need workers but can’t get them, or can’t keep them, because of a shortage of rental housing.
SCREDO is using a mix of motivation and education to encourage people to become landlords to fill that gap.
“You can increase the value of your house, you can add some revenue to your monthly income stream,” Hegesheimer said. “But, I think at the end of the day this campaign is really about the pride, saying I’m a Sunshine Coast resident and I believe I can do something to fight this worker shortage, I believe I can do something to help provide housing.”
A new section on the website www.thisisthecoast.ca will link people to all the information they need to help create suites that meet building codes and local bylaws as well as advice on being a landlord for people who’ve never rented out a home before.
Hergesheimer said SCREDO is also hoping to create the same kind of social media buzz that the original This is the Coast campaign had by encouraging people to share their stories using the hashtag #VictorySuites.
“We’d love to hear from people,” Hergesheimer said. “People who’ve had good experiences being a landlord or tenants who’ve built these long-term relationships with landlords and that’s really enabled them to find their place in the community on the Sunshine Coast.”
Many people on the Sunshine Coast with a secondary suite or extra space have been choosing to offer short-term rentals, including Airbnb. Hergesheimer said the Victory Suites initiative, and SCREDO as a whole, aren’t trying to get those people to change direction.
“We’re not directly speaking in contrast to Airbnb or other short-term rentals. I think that’s a separate issue that SCREDO isn’t taking a position on at this time,” he said.