Affordable housing, just like any other type of real estate, is all about the location.

On Monday, Sudbury city staff gave the community services committee an update on an affordable housing plan. Five goals were laid out for the city to complete within 12 months. That includes plans to create location criteria, financial incentives, as well as ironing out zoning details.

Over the past several years, city hall has conducted more than six studies on housing needs across Greater Sudbury.

This recent update compiles all that information and provides definite plans for city staff to work with.

Location, location, location

A large part of developing affordable housing is making sure the city puts these future complexes in the right place, according to Kris Longston, Sudbury's manager of community and strategic planning. That means constructing the affordable housing close to municipal and commercial services.

Kris Longston

Kris Longston, the city's manager of community and strategic planning. (Samantha Samson/CBC News)

"So, things like parks, community facilities, arenas, and transit to ensure that residents have the chance to access these without the use of a vehicle," says Longston. "And so people can access grocery stores, doctors offices and pharmacies."

One man's school is another man's affordable home

Some members of the committee brought up the idea of converting surplus schools into housing complexes.

Longston says even though this is a possibility —especially since the city owns that property already — the school still needs to fit the location criteria.

"We'd be looking at locational criteria, so making sure that school, or any other site, is in close proximity to these other services that we want to make sure are available to those residents," he says.

Outlying areas need housing too

Because of Greater Sudbury's large geography, councillor Evelyn Dutrisac says she wants to focus on housing in outlying areas.

"Being older adults or being homeless people, they want to stay close to their knit families or where they were raised and born, not necessarily want to come back to downtown Sudbury," says Dutrisac.

There are several barriers which city staff pointed out during the update, including the possibility of amending certain bylaws, depending on where the city decides to put the housing. Some areas, for example, are zoned as parkland, which would require specific actions to change.

But councillor Robert Kirwan says there should be no excuses.

"We can get around just about any challenge, and for affordable housing, I think it's important we do this as quickly as possible," Kirwan says.

"I'm really excited about this because it's got all the elements we need to move forward."

There are no specific locations listed in the report from city staff.

City committees and council will make decisions on the affordable housing plans within the next 12 months.