A Fredericton city councillor is urging politicians, businesses and community leaders to work together to build more affordable housing units in the city.
There are roughly 300 to 400 people in the greater Fredericton area waiting for an affordable housing unit.
Coun. Mike O’Brien said the waiting list is down from roughly 800 people who were on the list at the end of 2010.
O’Brien said developers in the city cannot build affordable housing units fast enough or in substantial enough quantities to deplete the three-year waiting list.
The councillor said city politicians have been working hard to engage developers and citizens about the need to build more affordable housing units around Fredericton.
O’Brien said Fredericton should look to Saint John, which has effectively brought business leaders and other groups together to build new affordable housing spaces in the Port City.
"I think I have to take that, learn from them, and try to engage our council and the rest of the community to get a total community effort, including a big backing of the business community, whether it is financial or moral or just using their connections to make a more seamless type of thing," O’Brien said.
Building more affordable housing units does come down to different levels of government making tough choices, the councillor said.
"It comes down to government funding, every government including municipalities are tightening their purse strings … but the first people that feel the fall out of that are the people that need the help the most. It is a challenge. It is always a challenge," he said.
High rents a challenge
One of the challenges the city has to overcome is the high rents in Fredericton, according to the councillor.
Fredericton has the highest rent prices in the province and O’Brien said the council has tried to entice developers to build more affordable units.
High rent costs, he said, are leading to many people in Fredericton struggling to pay for housing and other important costs.
There are many people in Fredericton that are in houses but are still having a tough time in this economy.
"There is up to 6,000 households in the city of Fredericton that are struggling," he said.
"They are either in overcrowded housing, haven’t got enough income to just get by , the house they are renting or living in needs major repair and they don’t have the cash to do it, the money is going to patch the roof and not feed people."