SHIP was created in 1999 to assist with delivering affordable units in Saskatoon by working with the private sector, builders and developers, along with affordable housing groups . At that time, the strategic map focused on an investment capital fund, endowment capitalization, charitable donations, development assistance, delivering program funding, loan packaging, and loan securitization. The talk was of families, modest-income, and large-scale construction.
As time moved on, SHIP’s role became one of facilitator – helping identify opportunities in the hopes the players would see the potential for collaboration in making projects stronger and with better outcomes in terms of design, affordability, and distribution across the city.
However, what became evident was that there was in fact very little capacity in the community for true partnering and collaboration. There was development capacity in one sector, market intelligence in another, but not a one-stop-shop for affordable housing project development in Saskatoon.
Thus emerged SHIP’s role as provider of technical assistance, capacity building, and community advocacy for affordable housing in Saskatoon. The Development Services team and SHIP’s Board of Directors continue to provide guidance and direction on a variety of affordable housing projects that come forward.
SHIP is structured as a non-profit partnership that brings organizations together to form collaborations to do what no one organization can accomplish alone.
As the City of Saskatoon faces continued pressure to help supply appropriate and affordable housing units for low income families, first time buyers and seniors on fixed incomes. Saskatoon’s continued growth has created an urgent need to respond to changing demographics and increased housing prices with initiatives that will help create more appropriate and affordable housing. Permanent, affordable, appropriate, safe and secure housing is the necessary foundation for building healthy, well educated, creative and economically viable neighbourhoods.
In order to achieve this goal, developers and home builders may need to be accommodated for providing affordable housing units. Reassessing and re-evaluating policies regarding the development charges and increase levies, fees and transaction costs may also help to significantly reduce the costs incurred by home buyers and renters.
Consultations with City administration, home builders, non-profit housing providers and the Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) indicate that incentives and policy changes are not the only answer. Traditional non-profit housing providers, faith based organizations and other housing providers require assistance to develop business plans for affordable housing. Skilled human resources available to assist housing providers in developing plans, procuring sites, applying for government programs and incentives are also crucial.
Using the network that SHIP has developed to address housing issues in the City, SHIP is able to call upon its network and contacts within the residential construction industry, financial institutions, engineering consultants and firms, and non-profit organizations (among others) to work on proposed projects.
The Development Services team and the Board Directors of SHIP are able to provide guidance and direction on various projects that come forward. Few organizations exist that bring a wealth of knowledge and experience, coupled with relationships with government, business and community like SHIP.