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Pull Together: Addressing Housing Insecurity

Housing is a key component of community social and economic well-being. In addition to the need for affordable, supportive, and accessible housing, a lack of available housing has direct impacts on economic development and tourism.

Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) and Choices for Youth have released a new report on housing needs: Pull Together: Addressing Housing Insecurity in Newfoundland and Labrador and Executive Summary.

The information garnered through this work reveals a rapidly deteriorating situation with respect to the availability and affordability of housing. Measures are needed to rapidly stimulate the creation of large amounts of rental housing, ensure adequate income for the population, and increase the availability and diversity of related services in rural areas.

There is a strong desire from municipalities and service providers to work together with other government agencies and foster greater understanding and mutual action. There is likewise a strong imperative for economic and social well-being and a call from those experiencing the impacts of this crisis to address these issues with the urgency they deserve.


  • Renter households are much more likely to live in unaffordable housing than their owner counterparts; about one-third of renter households in the communities studied live in unaffordable housing, though in some cases this is as much as 44%.
  • Point-in-time counts from shelters outside the Avalon region in NL show a nearly tenfold increase in usage between 2019 and 2023.
  • All case study communities (which included Gander) reported challenges with both the availability and affordability of housing; these challenges have increased in severity since the onset of the pandemic.
  • Lack of funds for both building and operating housing were cited as barriers to resolving these issues, as well as jurisdictional issues, informational resources, and delays relating to municipal and provincial approval processes.
  • The cost of development was frequently noted as a perceived contributor to insufficient housing supply and the high cost of housing.
  • A lack of housing options for seniors living in their family home is a major issue, especially as the median age in the communities generally studied tracks well above the provincial median age. Many seniors are living in homes in which maintenance and heating are cost-prohibitive and their needs for accessibility are not met. Fixed incomes mean that seniors who do not own their homes are unable to afford increasing rents.

The MNL report is calling on Municipal Governments to:


  • End single-family home zoning, making, at a minimum, subsidiary suites and townhomes a permitted use in all residential zones
  • Create zoning provisions for the creation of smaller, more dense housing developments for seniors, including lowering minimum lot and dwelling sizes. Where no such provisions exist, create zoning and definitions for apartment zones
  • Prioritize development approvals and waive development fees for affordable housing projects
  • Implement a tax on vacant rental properties
  • Apply the tourism accommodation tax to short-term rental properties
  • Consider offering in-kind contributions of servicing to affordable rental housing projects on surplus municipal land


  • Establish inventories of municipally owned land and underutilized buildings and a transparent process for their distribution for development of rental housing
  • Consider options for pre-emptive rezoning and advance development approvals for land and buildings identified in the inventory to expedite development once the land is awarded
  • Streamline municipal processes to expedite the approval of rental construction projects, especially multi-family housing
  • Create agreements with providers of purpose-built multi-family rental housing to offer rebates of municipal property taxes for an agreed-upon period during which affordability thresholds must be maintained (for example, a certain percentage of units at 80% of median market rent)


  • With Provincial cooperation, introduce inclusionary zoning for multi-unit developments at 10% of units or minimum 1 unit for developments of 10 or fewer units or cash in lieu at the municipality’s discretion; in the case of cash in lieu, all revenues should be reinvested in affordable housing initiatives
  • Replace tax sales with repurposing properties for redevelopment into affordable housing projects where those properties are appropriate for such development; create an evaluation matrix to identify which properties would be suitable for this purpose
  • Create unified inventory and application process for developable surplus provincial and municipal land and buildings with clear and transparent criteria and application process for interested non-profits and developers through the creation of a community land trust

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