Housing is Out of Reach
While Ontarians did enjoy housing affordability once upon a time, thatâ€™s sadly no longer the case. Since around the late 1960sâ€”when MacLean’s magazine first wrote an article on the topicâ€”housing affordability across the province has slowly eroded.
According to Ontarioâ€™s housing affordability task force, house prices in Ontario have â€œalmost tripled in the past 10 years, growing much faster than incomes.â€ In Guelph, the average home price now sits above the $1 million mark, according to the Canadian Real Estate Associationâ€”ten times the average Guelphiteâ€™s annual salary, according to Statistics Canada. Rent, meanwhile, now sits at a median price of $1750 for a one-bedroomâ€”well out of reach for someone on minimum wage (who, at 40 hours a week, would only bring in approximately $2400 a month).
While the issue of housing affordability is a complex one, solving it isnâ€™t impossible. In fact, many other jurisdictions worldwide have faced similar situationsâ€”that they resolved, in part, with specific taxes, incentives and government coordination.Â
Based on this and the insight of experts, Mike Schreiner and the Ontario Greens have created a Housing Strategy that has been called a masterclass plan to address the housing affordability crisis. The Greens focus on three key tools that could make a big impact:
With high real estate prices come an increase in real estate speculatorsâ€”or individuals who invest in property for the sheer purpose of making a profit. In many cases, these investors contribute to rising housing costs without providing anything in return (like increased rental properties). Rather, their purchases often remain vacantâ€”or they turn them around quickly at a higher price, further driving up the market.
Ontario Greens propose:
- a multiple homes speculation tax that will only apply to new purchases of homes for domestic individual or corporate buyers who already own two or more homes or condominium units;
- a tax on vacant property to make it harder for speculators, whether foreign or domestic, to use real estate as a lucrative place to park cash;
- an anti-flipping tax on quick turnaround sales to reduce speculation;
- Expanding the Non-Resident Speculation Tax in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
The best way to increase affordability while stamping out sprawl is to create more housing supply within our existing communities by building â€œ15-minuteâ€ communities where people can live, work and play. We can do this by:
- Freezing urban boundaries, so communities donâ€™t continue to sprawl.
- Updating laws to allow zoning and regulations that permit a minimum of triplex and fourplex construction in all residentially zoned areas. We need to be able to build triplexes and fourplexes without additional zoning permissions required.
- Requiring minimum densities along transit corridors as part of the Growth Plan and transit funding agreements between the province and municipalities.
- Re-introduce the Brownfield Remediation Fund, which was a low-interest loan and grant program available to municipalities for the redevelopment of â€œbrownfieldsâ€â€”abandoned, vacant, derelict or underutilized properties. (source)
We urgently need to build more well-designed, affordable, purpose-built rental housing that suits the needs of the tenants. For example, housing that is accessible, with access to outdoor space and enough room for families with kids. Ontario Greens would increase affordable housing supply by:Â
- Building 100,000 new permanently affordable rental homes over the next decade in partnership with the federal government under the National Housing Strategy;
- Building 60,000 supportive housing units with wrap-around health and social service support;
- Mandating inclusionary zoning that requires a minimum percentage of 20% affordable units in all housing projects above a certain size;
- Increasing incentives and streamlining the application process for homeowners to add affordable rental units to their primary residence. We can use existing buildings, backyards and other available spaces to create extra units, such as laneway housing, secondary suites and basement apartments.
To learn more about Mike Schreinerâ€™s plan to make Ontario housing more affordable, visit gpo.ca/housing.