Lacombe could use more lower-priced homes and cheaper rentals to attract new residents, says an updated affordable housing strategy.
“Housing affordability is a challenge in Lacombe for both rental and ownership markets,” says the strategy, which will go before Lacombe city council on Monday.
Part of the problem is that homes have become much more of a financial commitment for buyers. In 1991, the average Lacombe home cost about $82,000, against an average household income of $45,000 — a 1.8 to 1 ratio.
By 2016, the average house cost just under $350,000 in Lacombe — more than three times the average household income of $114,000.
Those seeking a home in lower price ranges will find little available. The report says Lacombe has “few housing options available under $300,000 and the current lot prices for new and infill developments are viewed to be too high for starter home developments.”
For renters, the challenge has also been rising costs, with the cost of an average suite increasing by 12 per cent between October 2015 and last month. Almost 35 per cent of renters spend more than 30 per cent of their household income on rent.
The report says having a good supply of rental options available is important for attracting millennials, who tend to be more transient in their adult years and less concerned about buying a home until they are established in a career.
Boosting the city’s millennial population “may be dependent on the community’s ability to grow its rental market capacity in a manner that keeps pace with housing options for ownership.”
To address home ownership and rental challenges, the report suggests working with governments to see what funding help is available, while supporting more garden suites, garage conversions, tiny homes and multi-lot developments.
Exploring shopkeeper housing options and ways to boost residential density could also be done, says the report.
Ensuring affordable housing is available for seniors by allowing more to stay in their homes should also be pursued, says the report. About 900 homes are owned by Lacombe residents over 65, with 150 homeowners over 85.
Additional home care and support services would help seniors live in their homes for longer. Communal housing and offering more rental and ownership options in affordable units, could also be encouraged.
The report also looks at people living in “vulnerable situations,” many of whom are coping with addiction, mental or physical health issues.
Working with service agencies to find funding for a variety of supportive housing models and examining rental subsidy programs are proposed.