University of British Columbia research team develops tools to help mitigate housing crisis

Allard Law professor Alexandra Flynn co-leads the research team

University of British Columbia research team develops tools to help mitigate housing crisis

The University of British Columbia’s Housing Research Collaborative (HRC) has developed assessment tools intended to assist the federal government in solving Canada’s current housing crisis.

Led by Allard Law professor Alexandra Flynn and UBC professor Penny Gurstein, HRC has introduced two assessment tools – a housing need assessment tool and a land assessment tool.

These tools were introduced pursuant to HRC’s Housing Assessment Resource Tools (HART) project which seeks to develop effective, equitable and comparable methods for diagnosing housing needs and identifying suitable land for social and affordable housing.

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According to Flynn, the housing need assessment tool measures housing need by income group to generate maximum housing costs, such as rental fees, which meet affordable housing needs. While the land assessment tool helps governments identify well-located land and buildings that can be utilized to meet housing need.

“Right now, there are no standardized, replicable or equity-based tools to measure housing need across the country,” Flynn said. “This makes it very difficult for governments, including municipalities, to determine what housing is needed and for whom. Or for governments to know where they should place new housing.”

“Our tool seeks to change that,” Flynn added.

From March to September 2021, HRC had prototyped the tools in Kelowna, British Columbia, and found that despite the city’s remarkable success in combatting loss of affordable rental housing from 2006 to 2016, there are still high levels of housing need in low-income households.

At present until March 2023, Flynn said that HRC continues to work with 15 governments across Canada to roll out the tools nationally.

“These 15 governments include small and large municipalities, a territory, a regional government and First Nations, totaling more than one third of Canada’s population.”

HRC is a community of housing researchers, providers and policymakers focused on understanding systemic impediments in the housing system and addressing housing unaffordability.

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