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My moonshot could solve affordable housing

It was a bold claim in May 1961 when President Kennedy said he was going to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. We all know he went on to succeed in that mission, and the idea of a moonshot was born. 

The idea of moonshot thinking is addressing a huge problem, proposing a radical solution, and using breakthrough technology to make it happen.

I spend a lot of time thinking about rental housing and I think I have come up with the moonshot concept for addressing affordable housing. The huge problem to be solved is homelessness and the affordable housing crisis.

The technology is a specific learning portal platform for rental apartment development and online education, and the radical solution is that the private sector solves it instead of the government.

No one needs convincing that there is a big problem here needing to be solved. CMHC has stated that to restore affordability (in Canada), an additional 3.5 million affordable housing units are needed by 2030. We have an active apartment developer community across the country but 3.5 million units in seven years is a big ask.

Instead, we need a solution on a much broader scale.

Homeowners everywhere part of solution

This is where the everyday homeowner and our radical solution comes in. Many homeowners across the country have the extra space or land to offer a basement or backyard apartment on their property.

An increase in secondary suites, like these, on a wide scale would create a huge influx of rental housing units.

The last piece of moonshot thinking is using breakthrough technology. We are developing a proprietary learning portal dedicated specifically to education on development of rental housing of all forms.

By engaging with our portal, in the appropriate track, the user, whether that be an everyday homeowner or a home developer, would learn essential skills to create these secondary suites. 

It’s just the right thing to do!

If we saw an increase in basement and backyard apartments, we would be solving many problems and creating advantageous positions for many stakeholders.

Let’s look first at the average young person unable to afford a home.

We can’t expect that home prices are going to drop dramatically any time soon and for the good of all current homeowners whose equity is in their real estate, we don’t want them to.

What needs to change is income for the would-be homeowner. Adding on a rental unit to the property that brings in consistent passive monthly income is the perfect way to make an expensive home more affordable.

In addition, we add more supply to the market, as CMHC has highlighted the need for. Not only that, but municipalities will also see an increase in tax revenue from these new units being added on.

It’s good for would-be homeowners, it’s good for long-term homeowners looking to increase the value of their home, it’s good for investors who want to invest in this process. It’s good for municipalities. It’s just the right thing to do!

Addressing homeowner concerns

Some might bring up fears of having tenants in their homes, but most of this can be solved with education and eviction rules could also be revised for secondary suites (no one should have to have a tenant who they fear staying in their basement).

This isn’t a brand new idea – basement apartments have long been an option, but we are seeing some municipalities create programs that make the creation of these apartments simpler and more feasible to homeowners.

If this happens across the country, we’ll see a huge increase in supply. 

Another way this can be approached is by homebuilders.

Why doesn’t every homebuilder just rough in a basement unit? They don’t have to finish it as such but at least creating the option gives the future homeowner the option to rent the unit at a later time.

We all have it in our minds that our government needs to create programs to solve the problem of homelessness and affordable housing but what if the solution is sitting right in our backyard?

Maybe we actually need less government involvement to solve the problem . . .

Think about Uber: there were too many cars on the road. With Uber and Lyft, 100,000 car owners were empowered to be in the taxi business full-time or part-time however they wanted, and we empowered millions to give up a car and take an Uber instead.

The government wasn’t involved at all, but it ended up solving a big problem.

The same can be said for Airbnb with respect to short-term hotel/vacation properties.

The Self Funding House

My new book, The Self Funding House, can help to put a dent in our housing crisis by bringing all of these concepts together. It’s a way to rekindle the dream that many have lost, due to the cost of homeownership today, while increasing the supply of rentals.

To solve a big problem, you need to mobilize an army.

Developers building high-rise, mid-rise and low-rise buildings are certainly part of the solution for building affordable housing, but it needs to be more than just developers. "Many hands make light work."

A shared economy solution has the ability to add many rental units to existing properties; the combined effect of those who take advantage of that opportunity is going to be enormous.

Canada, let’s get to work on creating more rental units, it’s the right thing to do!

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