Lethbridge City Council has approved its Municipal Housing Strategy.

Monday morning (Oct. 7), Councillors gave the go ahead for a plan for safe, secure, and affordable housing across the city.

The plan was outlined and put forward by Community and Social Development Manager, Martin Thomsen. He says Lethbridge needs more affordable housing.

“This plan can not sit on a shelf,” says Thomsen. “We actually now have to implement it. If we don’t we will be in the same or worse shape five years from now. Affordable housing is a priority for Canadians and Lethbridge is no different.”

There are 51 recommended actions one of which includes reviewing land-use bylaws to identify opportunities to support development of affordable and supportive housing.

Another action item outlines working with housing partners in the Federal and Provincial Governments and the private sector to implement a pilot program specifically to create affordable housing in the city.

Thomsen notes the federal government’s definition of affordable housing is a person shouldn’t be spending more than 30% of their total income on housing. That not only includes the mortgage or rent, but all utilities, and fees, etc.

He says Lethbridge has a key affordability issue. “It’s not that we don’t have necessarily the number of units. It’s that we can’t afford them because our income in Lethbridge is much lower than the provincial average, about $35,000 per year lower. We have more than 50% of our lower income households in Lethbridge spending more than 30% on housing.”

Low income is defined as a total household income of $49,00 or less a year.

The implementation of the Municipal Housing Strategy will see work started shortly with work on developing partnerships and advocacy one of the first action items to be tackled.

(With files from City of Lethbridge)