UBC researchers test new affordable housing assessment tool in Kelowna

Kelowna tests housing tool

Researchers at UBC are using Kelowna to test a new tool designed to provide a standardized method of assessing affordable housing needs by income and future population growth. The HART tool also tries to identify land that would be ideal for affordable housing development.

It all started with a grant from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Lead researcher Craig E. Jones says they use census data to break down the population into very low, low, moderate, average and very high income households.

“The next thing we do is project into the future the growth in households based on past trends...we then look at the loss in low-cost rental housing in the city and then we bring all these numbers together to get an idea of the estimate of future housing need in the city of Kelowna.”

The other part of the tool is a map that’s built in ArcGIS Online to identify every publicly owned or social-purpose parcel of land.

“Using network analysis of walkability, we identify parcels that might be suitable for affordable housing given a whole list of criteria. You know, access to schools or pharmacies or grocery stores,” said Jones.

He notes the City of Kelowna has been an excellent partner in the process and has a fairly robust affordable housing plan already. “Our contribution might have been a different way of looking at the land that is available. For us to say hey, we’ve identified 230 sites that you might want to look at. That could be something different that the city considers.”

The next step is to put in a proposal to stage two of the CMHC Housing Supply Challenge, and if successful the UBC team has agreements in place with 10 other cities and regions across the country.

“We will work with them to refine our tool. We’re going to hire people to provide assistance and work through and try to make this something that can get picked up, provide the data, assets that are necessary in order to generate a common understanding of affordable housing needs across the country,”

You can read more about the HART housing assessment tool here.

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