The Edmonton Affordable Housing Solutions Lab is nearing the completion of the prototyping phase. Two teams have been working diligently since December in creating prototype solutions with one team considering an existing building retrofit checklist and the other developing a framework for new housing. The teams have leveraged the diverse skills and experiences from their participants which included people working in the built environment as builders, contractors, architects as well as people working directly with those who need affordable housing. These two teams have undertaken deep dives that have provided insight into the systemic problems with funding formulas, land “commodification” as well as the restrictions from building codes and zoning. Issues such as accessibility and visitability, along with energy and environmental sustainability have also been discussed in detail.
The two teams will be creating checklist tools for the project developers to utilize in how to find the right project that addresses affordability, accessibility and sustainability. The new housing team has even developed a framework for a social enterprise that can remove cost/profit centres that are a barrier to constructing affordable homes. This idea uses the model of a co-operative organization or enterprise to build modular home components to be delivered to housing cooperatives assemble/construct them. Learning opportunities and partnerships with trade schools and the manufacturing sector are an important part of making this co-operative model work.
After creating these checklists and frameworks for project developers, the Affordable Housing Solutions Lab will be looking for project developers and social housing agencies to test the ideas and provide constructive feedback for refinement and improvement. It is the hope of the participants in the Affordable Housing Solutions Lab to inspire new integrative and collaborative ways to build more homes.
Shafraaz Kaba, Workshop Facilitator