Saskatchewan releases housing strategy for 2011-2012, addressing challenges in housing supply, affordability amid population boom expected to continue for years

REGINA, Saskatchewan , August 8, 2011 (press release) – The Government of Saskatchewan today released A Strong Foundation - The Housing Strategy for Saskatchewan 2011-12 and the 2011-12 Provincial Action Plan, which outlines government's key activities for the strategy's first year of implementation. This precedent-setting strategy involves the entire housing sector and promotes a housing environment where all Saskatchewan people have access to homes that enhance their well-being, build local communities and contribute to a growing province.

"This strategy is an eight-year plan that is truly a collaborative community, industry and government-driven initiative needed to build a strong housing environment for Saskatchewan people," Social Services Minister and Minister responsible for Saskatchewan Housing Corporation June Draude said. "This plan goes beyond what the Government of Saskatchewan can do alone. It serves as a roadmap for us, as we work together to make Saskatchewan the best place to live, work and raise a family."

Since 2006, Saskatchewan has been experiencing unprecedented economic and population growth that is expected to continue for years to come. One of the challenges of this growth has been increased pressure on housing supply and affordability. In March and April 2011, the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation (SHC) held strategy consultations with more than 350 housing stakeholders throughout the province to tackle these issues and set out tangible solutions. These discussions resulted in five broad strategic priorities:

Increase the housing supply;
Improve housing affordability;
Support individuals and families in greatest housing need;
Enhance strategic planning for housing; and
Collaborate, communicate and educate.

Across the province, housing experts stated that every member of the housing sector has a role in providing housing solutions. Under the Housing Strategy for Saskatchewan, the Government of Saskatchewan will create annual Provincial Action Plans that will outline activities that will yield immediate results, as well as actions that will require work over multiple years. It is anticipated that everyone in the housing sector will fulfill their respective roles in creating solutions to Saskatchewan's housing challenges.

Under the 2011-12 Provincial Action Plan, the province also announced that $5 million in additional funding will be provided for SHC's popular Affordable Home Ownership Program (AHOP) and Rental Construction Incentive (RCI) program. More than 3,800 units have been approved under the programs (847 AHOP units and 2,965 RCI units). This already exceeds the number of units outlined in the Saskatchewan Advantage Housing Plan released on March 28, 2011.

AHOP provides financial assistance to help municipalities stimulate homeownership by reimbursing participating municipalities an amount up to the equivalent of five years of the education portion of the property tax to provide homeowners assistance with the purchase of a home. RCI helps municipalities to develop new purposely-built rental housing by providing municipalities with a provincial grant of up to $5,000 to match municipal grants or incentives to an owner for each eligible new rental unit constructed.

Copies of the Housing Strategy for Saskatchewan and the 2011-12 Provincial Action Plan are available on Saskatchewan Housing Corporation's website at www.socialservices.gov.sk.ca/housing-strategy.

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