February 23rd, 2017 by Claudia Pedrero
This article was first published on rabble.ca
On December 6, 2016, the Ontario legislature passed the Promoting Affordable Housing Act, 2016, expanding the powers of Ontario municipalities to implement “inclusionary zoning,” a requirement for developers to build affordable units when constructing new market‑rate housing. The Act changes the provincial Planning Act, RSO 1990, c.P.13, by obliging some municipalities, while making it optional for others, to adopt inclusionary zoning policies. A discussion on the adoption of the Act and debates surrounding its inclusionary zoning provisions can be found on our firm’s blog.
These legislative changes come years after rising housing prices, lagging income levels and dwindling federal and provincial funding have created an increasing need for new affordable housing in Ontario. Significantly, according to the 2017 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, over the past 13 years Toronto’s house prices have nearly doubled compared to household incomes, thus making market-rate housing unaffordable for an increasingly larger portion of the population. The same study also notes that nearby areas such as Hamilton and Oshawa are becoming unaffordable for middle‑income residents.
What inclusionary zoning will look like on the ground remains unanswered. By extension, it is difficult to predict whether the changes will have a significant impact on the need for affordable housing in Ontario. For example, it is unclear what an “affordable unit” means under the new changes and how affordable units will have to be priced. However, the province is slated to release regulations in early 2017 that will hopefully give some meat to its approach and allow municipalities to develop their policies and bylaws. Read the rest of this entry
December 12th, 2016 by Celia Chandler
Last week Bill 7, Promoting Affordable Housing Act, 2016, passed third reading and received Royal Assent. Bill 7 is part of the government’s Long‑Term Affordable Housing Strategy.
The province’s news release describes Bill 7 as a way to increase the supply of affordable housing and modernize social housing in the following four ways:
- By giving municipalities the option to implement inclusionary zoning, which requires affordable housing units to be included in residential developments;
- By making secondary suites such as above-garage apartments or basement units in new homes less costly to build, by exempting them from development charges. Secondary suites are a potential source of affordable rental housing and allow homeowners to earn additional income;
- By giving local service managers more choice in how they deliver and administer social housing programs and services to reduce wait lists and make it easier for people in Ontario to access a range of housing options;
- By encouraging more inclusive communities and strengthening tenant rights by preventing unnecessary evictions from social housing and creating more mixed-income housing; and
- By gathering data about homelessness in Ontario by requiring service managers to conduct local enumeration of those who are homeless in their communities, so that Ontario can continue to work towards its goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2025.
The bill was passed, but not everyone is thrilled with it and the sticking point seems to be the inclusionary zoning option. (Regular readers of our blog will know that inclusionary zoning is an approach that we’re interested in and something we’ve blogged about before.) At Tuesday’s debate, the NDP’s Percy Hatfield expressed the concerns of Toronto Councillor and strong housing advocate, Ana Bailao, and of the co‑op sector’s Harvey Cooper. Both are worried that as it’s presented, inclusionary zoning will force municipalities to make hard choices between housing and other community improvements like daycare and parks, so called “section 37 benefits” . As inclusionary zoning will be optional for municipalities, time will tell what the uptake is and where it is adopted, how effective it is as a tool to expand the affordable housing stock.
More immediately though for our clients, Bill 7 amends the Residential Tenancies Act to clarify that neither a landlord nor a non‑profit housing co‑op can give an eviction notice “on the ground that the member has ceased to be eligible for, or has failed to take any step necessary to maintain eligibility for, rent-geared-to-income assistance as defined in section 38 of the Housing Services Act, 2011.” These amendments, in force immediately, are found in the RTA at section 58(3) (for landlords) and section 94.2(3) (for housing co‑ops).
March 14th, 2016 by Celia Chandler
In an announcement today by Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister McMeekin, the province announced a number of changes to its Affordable Housing Strategy; these changes will surely work to ease the burden on our overstretched non‑profit housing providers.
Many of these initiatives are ideas that have been kicked around for awhile but haven’t had political support. Inclusionary zoning has been introduced in private members bills a number of times as discussed in our September 2014 rabble article. We’re pleased to see that McMeekin included it in his announcement today. Although it would be an option for municipalities, not mandatory, it has the potential of a real impact on the number of affordable housing units being built. Beyond just the need for more affordable units, the need for more and better supportive housing is paramount as is the need for Ontarions to be able to move their housing subsidies from landlord to landlord – and today’s announcement makes commitments in these areas too. Subsidized housing providers will be thrilled to know that the province recognises that the current process of calculating rent‑geared‑to‑income is cumbersome and that there are plans to simplify the formula.
Take a read of the summary of the province’s announcement. And stay tuned to our blog for more information as the province’s plans become concrete.
September 24th, 2015 by Celia Chandler
This post was first published on rabble.ca
Last week, I attended the AGM of Accommodation, Information and Support(AIS), a supportive housing provider for 104 Torontonians who have experienced mental health challenges and homelessness; many AIS tenants attended the meeting. Although AIS tenants have not had easy lives, they are lucky to have found permanent housing where they get the invaluable support services they need to live independently. Even as a mature organization with a 44-year history, AIS struggles to find money to create more housing. Each organizational resource ‑- financial and human -‑ is stretched to capacity, with no way to meet the burgeoning demand. The waitlist for people with mental health issues and/or addictions in Toronto has over 8,000 names — quadrupled in the last five years.
This is just one example of the critical need for a changed affordable housing landscape in Canada. Read the rest of this entry
July 2nd, 2015 by Safia Lakhani
This post was first published on rabble.ca
Toronto’s housing crisis is well documented: the skyrocketing and prohibitive cost of rent, the lack of funding for repairs to community housing structures, and the growing wait list for affordable housing are just a few of the issues that have received media attention in the past year.
The facts are equally grim across the country: one in four Canadians spends more than 30 per cent of their income on housing, and an estimated 733,275 low-income Canadians are in extreme housing need, spending more than 50 per cent of their income on housing. Over 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness every year, and some 365,000 households are at risk of rent increases or eviction as a result of the end of operating agreements.
Read the rest of this entry