When a region is known — and loved — as being the place for fulfilling dreams of home ownership, how do you get residents to buy-in to the need for rental housing? Explaining the need for a full range of housing, busting the myth about rentals devaluing property and getting the private sector to re-enter the rental market was what we had to achieve.
With those challenges in mind, we knew we could use National Housing Day as a focal point to get the conversations started. Historically, York Region would hold a special Housing Day event, inviting individuals from social agencies to attend.
To succeed, we’d have to do more.
The concept was to move the traditional bricks-and-mortar event online to engage with audiences beyond the usual suspects. Focusing on social media — in particular, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube — and the region’s website, we were able to garner national media attention and celebrity, political and public participation.
The results of the #MakeRentalHappen campaign included submitted videos of support from Rick Mercer, the Kielburgers, and stars of HGTV shows, among others; media coverage including the Huffington Post; and more than 250,000 Twitter impressions. More importantly, a local developer stepped up to build a rental building in Newmarket.