Written by Cynthia Mazereeuw, Norfolk Housing
Most people hear ‘affordable housing organization’ and assume a certain amount of fundraising and governmental intervention to maintain operations.
And for a lot of housing models, that is absolutely true and entirely crucial to success. Without funds to boost operations, organizations would be unable to deliver the critical services that they provide to populations in need.
But what if we told you that for NHA’s unique mixed income model of housing, it is (almost) as simple – and as hugely important – as social impact renters?
Let’s delve deeper:
At Norfolk Housing Association, our mixed model means that half of our residents pay rent geared-to-income – they pay a percentage of their income, regardless of what that is (with a minimum base), which allows persons on lower or fixed incomes to live in excellent, stable housing and be part of a community of their choosing.
The other half of our residents, the aforementioned “social impact renters”, pay market rent – rents normal to, or slightly below, the current market price for a given neighbourhood – knowing that their full rent payment directly offsets another person’s rent, allowing both parties to live in a diverse, inclusive community that promotes overall social good and a healthy economy.
Kind of cool, right?
Social impact renters benefit too. Hugely.
The misconception here might be that only half of NHA’s population benefits from our mixed-income model. But that just isn’t true. In fact, our market renters are quick to share all of the ways they benefit from being part of our community.
At NHA, it’s important to us that rent and utilities are kept affordable for everyone. This means that we never raise rents more than 5% annually – for any of our residents. It also means that everyone, whether they pay market rent or not, has access to incentive programs such as Calgary Dollars, which allows residents to turn in a portion of their rent through Calgary Dollars instead of federal currency. That translates to savings across the board!
Beyond that, social impact renters have access to a diverse community with rich amenities in a sought-after section of the city. Not to mention, we’re pet friendly and compassionate, meaning they also get to live with the security of knowing that in the event of a major life change, they have landlords who will work with them to ensure their continuity of home, safety, and stability for the long run. Plus, we’re pet friendly - and I think we can all agree that pets make everything better!
In other words, everyone wins
Together, through the mixed income model, neighbours advance an inclusive and respectful community; this ripples out of our buildings and is echoed into the communities that Norfolk serves (and beyond). Social impact renters are not the only reason the mixed model works – but they are at the very heart of it all.