Housing Hackathon

I highly suspect you’ve heard much about how housing prices in the Lower Mainland have ricocheted out of control. High housing costs affect everyone – families looking for their first family home, trying to shorten their commute, or sizing up with an extra bedroom; seniors downsizing since property taxes have escalated as the value of their homes has gone up; renting searching for something clean, affordable, and in the right location; or students who want to be close to their college or university.

The average price of rent for one bedroom in Vancouver reached $1950 over the summer and while New Westminster prices are not as elevated as Vancouver, it’s still nearly impossible to find affordable housing.

The City of New Westminster just approved a new Official Community Plan (OCP)—the planning of which took over three years with numerous public engagement opportunities. The OCP provides a blueprint for the city and updating this important document sparked ongoing debate and discussion about how the city can best incorporate density in order to try to mitigate inflated housing prices and to provide space for the growing population.

Every single day, I hear about housing problems – extensive BC Housing waitlists, friends being forced out of the city to find appropriate housing, bidding wars for rental units, fixed term leases, long waits at the Residential Tenancy Branch, increasing density in areas without the amenities to support it. I want to talk about solutions—the more ambitious the better. Often, we are hemmed in by what is most likely, but what if we instead talked about the wildest, most audacious solutions of which we’ve ever heard or dreamed? What if we boldly brought in the best solutions from around the world and tailored them to fit our communities? Have you ever wanted to carve out time to brainstorm with a group of diverse and creative people about housing solutions? Do you have an idea you want to put out and receive feedback on? Then let’s hack.

The Housing Hackathon is organized by Yes in New West, a local housing advocacy group and hosted by Billard Architecture. Using an Open Space Technology format, we’re going to “hack” solutions to the housing crisis. There’s limited space so you can reserve your ticket on Eventbrite.

Not a hacker in the traditional sense? Join us! Are you a renter? We need your voice and experience! Are you a realtor, a developer, an architecture or other housing professional? We want to hear from you! If you’re interested, but feel intimidated by the language of hacking – don’t be! You don’t have to be an expert to attend, but just have an interest in housing and an openness to sharing ideas. We’re going to take the ideas generated at the event and share them with the appropriate folks, thereby turning ideas into advocacy.