Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness Report Released

The Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness has presented its final report on how the City of Fredericton can help increase affordable housing options and end long-term, persistent homelessness in the community.

The task force developed 18 evidence-based recommendations for City Council to consider as a way to meet goals set in The Road Home, a community-based plan to end sustained homelessness in Fredericton developed by the Community Action Group on Homelessness in 2015.

Mayor Mike O’Brien, who commissioned the task force in November 2016, presented the report findings to members of Fredericton City Council during tonight’s Council meeting.  Along with task force co-chair, Coun. Eric Price, he thanked the members of the task force for their important work.

“It is with immense pleasure and considerable pride that I present this report,” said O’Brien. “The task force has gone above and beyond, not only fulfilling its mandate to deliver recommendations, but also creating long-lasting community partnerships that will help us address the issue of affordable housing and homelessness. I deeply appreciate their work over the past few months.”

The task force recommendations include:

  • Reducing parking requirements for Housing First construction where appropriate to decrease development cost and increase the land available for purposes that better meet community needs.
  • Donating or leasing surplus city-owned remnant properties where appropriate for Housing First developments.
  • Amending the definition of “assisted living” to include “permanent supportive/supported housing” to avoid the necessity of rezoning and allow churches to more easily build Housing First developments on their own land.
  • Providing Housing First participants with subsidized bus passes to increase access to health and social supports and opportunities for education and employment.
  • Conducting an analysis of best practices and regulatory structures for rooming houses.
  • Raising awareness about the broad community benefits of affordable housing and Housing First through a ‘Yes in My Backyard’ education campaign.
  • Exploring the viability of creating an Affordable Housing Land Trust under the municipal structure.
  • Conducting a process improvement strategy to make it easier for non-profits to participate in affordable housing development.

“Eliminating homelessness is not only the right thing to do for our community, research has actually shown it to be less expensive to taxpayers to fix the problem than to settle for the status quo,” said Coun. Eric Price, task force co-chair. “There is overwhelming evidence that using the Housing First strategy can not only reduce, but eliminate homelessness, and is already being implemented in our community with encouraging results. With this report, we’ve identified ways the City can accelerate this progress and enable more affordable housing options.”

The Task Force reached beyond its initial mandate by helping create partnerships and ongoing initiatives. These include developing a funder’s network connecting philanthropic and government funders, enabling the creation of a Housing First Fund (a partnership of the United Way of Central New Brunswick and the Fredericton Community Foundation), helping create the Faith-based Homeless Serving Network, and developing resources for the design and development of affordable housing in the community. A sum of $460,000 has already been raised for Housing First units through these efforts.

Mayor O’Brien noted the importance of addressing homelessness in the community, and though such social issues are mandates of other levels of government, the City can play a meaningful role in eliminating it.

“The only way to develop into the even greater city we aspire to, is to ensure everybody is brought along – that no one is left behind,” Mayor O’Brien. “It is wonderful to see the progress we’ve been able to make as a community on this issue – one that I have been proud to been involved with over the past few years, including formerly chairing the Community Action Group on Homelessness when The Road Home plan was first developed and launched. I look forward to working with my Council colleagues to take action on this issue and to continue to partner with our community to end chronic and episodic homelessness in Fredericton.”

The task force’s full report is available by visiting the City of Fredericton’s website at www.fredericton.ca and searching “Mayor’s Task Force”.

About the Task Force

In November 2016, Mayor Mike O’Brien commissioned the Task Force on Homelessness, bringing together community leaders in a number of disciplines including architects, designers, builders, private, non-profit and public-sector property developers, non-profit associations, those with lived experience, apartment owners, and academics. The task force’s mandate was to recommend to Council immediate and long-term actions within the City’s jurisdiction and ability to help advance the goals of The Road Home, the strategic plan to end chronic homelessness in Fredericton.

The task force leadership team included:  

  • Mayor Mike O’Brien: Task Force Co-Chair
  • Coun. Eric Price: Task Force Co-Chair and Chair of the City of Fredericton Affordable Housing Committee
  • Jennifer Landry: Chair of the Flows Working Group
  • Sandi MacKinnon: Chair of the Partnerships Working Group
  • John Leroux: Chair of the Form Working Group
  • Coun. John McDermid and Jason LeJeune: Co-chairs of the Finance Working Group