Written by Affordable Housing Solutions Lab Fellow, Nadine Chalifoux
The Fellowship Program brings together experiential partners, researchers, practitioners, housing providers, policymakers, planners and housing advocates to collaborate over a 6-month term. During this time, Fellows work together to identify and explore innovative affordable housing solutions and to provide the lab direction with regard to community learning activities. These blog posts will describe how each of the Fellows became interested in housing and why they think housing is important.
1. How did you come to be involved in the field of housing?
I’ve always been involved in housing and homelessness since I was 9. It’s been close to my heart as I have suffered from the lack of affordable, appropriate and accessible let alone safe housing a good deal of my life.
2. Why is housing important?
I grew up in poverty so we lived in social housing, which is where I became aware of the dire need housing was for so many Edmontonians. That was 9, now I’m 45. I became active in it in Drayton Valley when I found myself bouncing from place to place, couch to couch, back and forth from my mom’s average. There was zero housing initiatives for impoverished and homeless individuals/families at the time. Most active when I returned to Edmonton after a year at a job, I suffered deep grief and ended up homeless, jobless, and without my car 10 years ago last December. I’ve always felt the large gap housing has been. I don’t want anyone to suffer the trauma of being homeless or without adequate, appropriate, accessible, safe and affordable housing.
3. In your opinion what is innovative when it comes to affordable housing?
If you asked me 40 years ago, I’d say nothing is innovative about affordable housing. Today I am encouraged by the many innovative ways affordable housing is being achieved: from private developers pairing with not for profit housing providers to create not only affordable housing that is not sub-par but also net-zero and even rent to own options for the poorer populations. Also seeing the City of Edmonton not passing the problem to federal and provincial governments but purchasing unused properties and land for affordable, permanent supportive and near market housing developments. Taking accountability for its citizens. I always believe that a city should help the solution to eliminating the drain on services by vulnerable, and impoverished citizens giving them the opportunity to gain an equal opportunity to succeed as those who are in a better life situation. “A community is that of people who have extra to share with those who have less. Thus making the community equal. No one needing help and no one too better off. An equal community creates confidence, positivity, and growth equally.”