NHA Blog

Imagine you’re 23 years old, a single mom to two young kids, and you’ve been struggling to find housing that you can afford and that also suits your family’s needs. You’re looking for something close to an elementary school with a good after school program, something that’s close enough to groceries and transit because you don’t have a car, and in a perfect world, somewhere close to parks where you can bring the kids on the weekends.

Now imagine you’re fortunate enough to find all that with an affordable housing organization in a vibrant, amenity-rich neighbourhood. The C-train is a hop, skip and a jump from your front door, there’s an incredible park two blocks away, the river is not far, and there’s a host of beautiful shops and family-friendly restaurants right in your neighbourhood.

You settle into a life and routine, go back to school, complete your education, and things start to look really good for your family’s future. You pursue a full-time job at a living wage and start to put away a little money for your kids’ education; soon you might even find yourself thinking “I can relax now” as the anxiety of balancing a low income, childcare demands, and your education start to reduce.

It’s the best case scenario, right?

Unfortunately for many people in this situation, this is the precise moment where their lives will again be upheaved. This is due in part to normal practice for most affordable housing agencies – and this makes perfect sense within that context – that once an individual or family can afford market housing, they must move on, making space for the next family in need.

But what if those individuals could simply transition from paying rent geared to their income into paying market rent, without having to uproot their family and start all over again in a new location?

At Norfolk Housing Association, we value the permanency of home regardless of financial situation. Everyone has the right to a safe, affordable, and appropriate place to live and the dignity to determine what that looks like for themselves and their families. Residents are able to transition from social impact renters to subsidized renters and even back again, due to the flexibility of the mixed-income model. Units are never designated as subsidized or market; rather, we work with a fluctuating population to ensure a balance and diversity across buildings.

Residents are able to transition from social impact renters to subsidized renters and even back again, due to the flexibility of the mixed-income model. Click To Tweet

This model can also serve as a preventative to homelessness, because as mentioned above, the flexibility to flow between market and subsidized rents offer people the opportunity to remain housed if life changes suddenly – or even to plan ahead if the change is expected. As individuals age, for example, they can determine if staying in their current setting with a reduced rent, can work for them. It allows people the chance to consider what the best option is, without feeling rushed or forced into a decision before they’re ready.

The flexibility of the mixed-income model offers residents adaptability and security, and the choice to stay or go. Within the security of the model, residents can make the decisions that impact them and their families without fear of losing housing. The beauty of the mixed model is in offering people choice in where they live – and how long they stay.

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