I’m thrilled to announce that four of my students from the urban design/environmental planning studio have won the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) National Student Competition for Affordable Rental Housing! Lina el-Setouhy, Chloe Espiard, Mitch Gold and Juniper Littlefield are one of three student teams to be awarded the competition’s top prize of $10,000. The students submitted their final studio project, “The Jetty: An Affordable Housing Cooperative”. The competition was launched in 2017 with the new National Housing Strategy and is part of CMHC’s Innovation Fund, both of which have jump-started the implementation of rental and other types of housing in Canadian cities after many years of inconsistent funding.

Student winners Juniper Littlefield, Mitch Gold, Chloe Espiard, and Lina el-Setouhy at their final presentation in December 2017

As I wrote last fall, the students had to come up with site/landscape plans, floor plans, a demographic analysis to justify their approach, a sustainability lens (funding for energy-efficient products, sustainable landscape or building materials), and a financial model (pro forma and 10-year affordability) for their projects. This helped ensure that their projects were as viable as possible–CMHC was especially interested in innovative sustainability or financial approaches to rental housing. The winning group proposed a student cooperative that would incorporate refurbished shipping containers in a low-rise housing development. Our site was on Quinpool Road in Halifax bounded by Quingate and Windsor Streets. I’m especially proud of the students in this class for learning all of the aspects that make affordable housing so challenging to build, including combining small and large funds and the need to mix market and non-market units, commercial and retail space to achieve a realistic profit.

A special thank you to Jeff Haggett, Lindell Smith, Neil Lovitt, and Bob Bjerke, all of whom provided valuable insights and critique to the students during the term.

Leave a Reply