What is being done to address the housing affordability problem? “The Burlington Gazette
By the staff
September 22, 2021
The evidence is there, and it is overwhelming. The cost of housing has increased much faster than household incomes. The past year has seen a lot of talk about housing affordability, as the impact of COVID-19 on changing work arrangements has created different opportunities depending on where people are. This Community Dispatch will examine what is being done to address the issue of housing affordability.
Founded on the belief that every Canadian deserves safe and affordable housing, the National Housing Strategy (NHS) is a 10-year, $ 70 billion plan the federal government has put in place to create a new generation of affordable housing. in Canada. and inclusive. The NHS is designed as a toolkit to address challenges across the housing continuum and spectrum of housing needs, with its initial focus on vulnerable Canadians, including women and children fleeing violence, Indigenous peoples , seniors and newcomers to Canada. The National Housing Strategy will translate into up to 100,000 new housing units and 300,000 repaired or renovated housing units, creating a whole new generation of housing in Canada.
Using a mix of funding, grants and loans, the strategy will create affordable, stable and livable communities that are mixed-income, accessible (located close to amenities and transportation) and sustainable. Rising house prices have made home ownership more difficult. In addition, the supply of rental housing in Canada is aging, many buildings are in poor condition and require costly repairs, and the aggregate supply does not meet the needs of many cities. Therefore, by bringing together the public, private and non-profit sectors, the NHS can create a new supply of affordable housing by increasing the capacity of the community housing sector, increasing funding for the construction of new affordable shelters and housing with support services, encourage the construction of sustainable rental apartments. using low-cost loans and using excess land and buildings to create socially inclusive housing that provides solutions to housing problems. However, a recent analysis of the NHS by the Parliamentary Budget Officer found that the impact on housing needs was limited in its first three years.
While ambitious in its goals, the design of the NHS program is not beyond criticism. Its core financial instrument, the Rental Construction Finance Initiative (RCFI), for example, is ostensibly designed to fill rental stock gaps by providing developers with faster access to loans, thereby accelerating the supply of housing. . Critics have argued that the RCFI – which receives 85% of the total increase in the NHS budget – can help increase the supply of housing for “demand from middle-income tenants”, but inflated income thresholds used within its framework prevent it from providing important affordable housing. solutions (see CURE Brief, Review of RCFI, January 2021).
The Ontario government supports the goals of the National Housing Strategy through the Community Housing Renewal Strategy and the Housing Supply Action Plan. 56% of Ontario renter households cannot afford the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment ($ 1,266). Rising housing costs have a significant impact on low-income households, and many of them need some form of assistance through the community housing system.
The Community Housing Renewal Strategy describes how the Ontario government will work with community partners to stabilize and develop the community housing sector. It is proven that when people have the housing they need, they have better health, education and employment outcomes.
When housing is affordable and close to public transportation, schools, workplaces and amenities, individuals have the opportunity to manage their lives and raise their families. Community housing provides housing for people in low-income jobs, the elderly, people on social assistance, people with developmental disabilities, mental health and addiction issues, and people who have experienced l homelessness, domestic violence or human trafficking. Community housing provides homes for more than 250,000 families and individuals across Ontario.
In order to increase the housing supply on the market, the Ontario government is developing a detailed housing supply action plan to create more affordable and good quality places to live. In an online consultation, more than half of submissions from the general public said their main criteria when finding accommodation was affordability, followed by public transportation, schools and nearby services. . By making the most of infrastructure investments and encouraging greater density around major transit stations, the plan will make it easier to build the right types of housing in the right places and help Ontarians find homes that meet their needs. their needs and their budget.
The success of the National Housing Strategy also requires working with municipalities to empower communities to create strategic plans and locally informed approaches to curb and reduce homelessness while creating new housing opportunities for vulnerable residents. The Comprehensive Housing Strategy, launched in 2014, serves as the region’s 10-year housing and homelessness plan that works to encourage and protect affordable housing in Halton. In 2019, the Regional Council approved the Global Housing Strategy Update 2014-2024 – Five-Year Review, which provides updated actions and targets for the CHS. These include creating a range and mix of new housing across the housing continuum to meet the needs of the Halton community; protect existing rental units so that they continue to be available to residents; and providing coordinated services to Halton residents who need assistance in obtaining or maintaining housing.
The Housing Condition Report is prepared annually to provide a review of housing supply and demand and is used to inform the overall housing strategy.
Halton’s vision includes advancing the provision of the right mix and variety of housing to meet different physical, social and economic needs. The report also assesses the region’s success in meeting the Regional Official Plan housing targets which call for at least 50% of new housing units produced annually in Halton to be townhouses or multi-storey buildings, and at least 30% of new housing units housing units produced to be affordable or assisted housing.
Halton’s Housing Model collects various information including household income, household expenses, housing costs and average rents in the area from a variety of data sources including Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Statistics Canada and the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC).
An analysis is then conducted on this data which generates thresholds based on household income and the cost of housing and this calculation is performed for the assisted and affordable (unassisted) segments of the housing continuum. A table showing the income and cost of housing thresholds is included below.
Housing State of Housing Report 2020 Income Thresholds and Cost Table, Halton Region
Lasting impact of COVID-19
According to the Oakville Resiliency Report of 2020, the pandemic has also made it more difficult to find affordable housing. The cost of housing, including rents, has fluctuated and many community life situations have become dangerous due to the difficulty of physical distancing. Long-term care facilities have been hit hardest by the pandemic with overwhelming outbreaks among residents and staff.
Emergency shelters have also been hit by the pandemic, having to reduce their ability to meet social distancing guidelines. In Halton, a new shelter for families and single women was acquired, while the Lighthouse Shelter was transformed into a single men’s shelter with targeted mental health supports. In addition, hotels were used as needed to meet growing demand.
According to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board Market Watch, in August 2021, the average selling price of a home in Halton was $ 1,206,016, an increase of 17% from the previous year.
The pandemic has created additional challenges and exacerbated others. For women in abusive relationships, the risk was increased when home support orders were implemented and violence escalated. According to Halton Women’s Place, the capacity of shelters has shrunk based on Covid guidelines, leaving many people fleeing violence unable to find space. As a result, the women waited longer to come. It is expected that there will be an increase after the pandemic ends.
Changes to the Real Estate Rental Commission (CLL) in the context of the pandemic also impacted low-income and otherwise marginalized tenants and raised awareness of inequalities and accessibility issues moving to hearings in online, as documented by the Legal Clinics of Ontario. Access to technology is very uneven, and the CLI cannot assume that all people have equal access to computers, Internet connection, phone minutes, or private space to meaningfully participate in hearings. Additionally, accessing legal assistance or advice during the pandemic when many legal clinic staff are working remotely is difficult, especially with tight deadlines and delays in processing important documents electronically. With these changes, the CLI has a responsibility to ensure that its response to COVID-19 does not unfairly exacerbate homelessness or the effects of the pandemic on racialized, black and Indigenous communities, or tenants living in the area. poverty.
This community message was produced by Community Development Halton, a non-profit organization that focuses on community development in the area.
Related news articles to be published in the near future include: Inclusion Zoning; new forms of housing arrangements and renovations – a rather unpleasant practice that some homeowners use.