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Three opportunities to positively impact housing in 2019

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Three opportunities to positively impact housing in 2019

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In 2018, the underlying issues impacting housing supply in the GTA and in turn the impacts on housing affordability, cost of living and its broader societal impact were a defining part of the public debate of the future of our region. Population growth combined with restrictive regulations, bureaucratic red tape, added costs and infrastructure challenges have created a generational challenge for the region. As we look forward, there are three opportunities to have a positive impact on these issues in 2019.

Housing Supply Action Plan

In late November, the government of Ontario announced that it would be developing a Housing Supply Action Plan. The provincial government rightly recognized that strong demand for housing and limited supply in Ontario has resulted in rapidly rising housing costs over the last few years, and that in fast growing areas like the GTA, high housing costs and rents are squeezing families and individuals out of the market. The Province is looking at what can be done to speed up the approval process so new housing can be built at a faster pace, how to encourage the right housing mix to be built, and the impact that high land costs and fees and taxes are having on housing prices. In addition, the action plan will look at home rental and ownership, not simply one or the other. These important initiatives are a great opportunity to begin to address the fundamental causes of housing affordability.

Revisit the stress test

While the issue of housing affordability is firmly on the provincial agenda, pressure is now growing on the federal government to consider the impacts of its mandated mortgage stress test. The program has succeeded in balancing the hot 2017 market, but is having a disproportionate impact on young and first-time homebuyers. The test, in effect, reduces the maximum amount of a mortgage that a home purchaser can borrow by roughly 20 per cent. Young and first-time homebuyers are the most likely to borrow close to their maximums, however, they also have the longest horizons for repayment and are often in the growth phase of their careers and earning potential. A growing chorus of industry professionals are urging Ottawa to fine-tune the approach and perhaps the potential for a one-time, longer amortization period for first-time buyers can provide some relief in 2019.

Lastly, municipalities can no longer ignore the issue or the role they must play as a partner to industry and the other levels of government in finding meaningful solutions to this issue.

Municipal involvement

During the fall municipal elections, voters in the GTA ranked housing affordability as a top priority for new local governments and the need to increase housing supply as a key mechanism to address  affordability was supported by nine out of 10 respondents to an IPSOS poll conducted by the industry last fall. With new councils and mandates in place, now is the time for new ideas.

This must be the year of action on this issue. With the arrival of 115,000 new residents to the GTA every year, and as we fall short in providing new housing at the levels required, we cannot afford to wait.

Dave Wilkes is president and CEO of BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association), and can be found on: Twitter.com/BILDGTA) Facebook.com/BILDGTA YouTube.com/BILDGTA and BILD’s official online blog: BILDBlogs.ca

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Ontario government commits to housing action plan

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Ontario government commits to housing action plan

Ontario web
Steve Clark, minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

The Ontario government says it is committed to a housing plan that makes more good quality places to live available for “the hardworking people of the province.”

“In communities all across Ontario, people are struggling to find housing they can afford,” says Steve Clark, minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We’re taking action to help create more housing faster, give people more choice and bring down housing costs.”

Ontario is knocking down barriers to people getting housing they can afford that meets their needs, through:

 

  • Legislation that would make new rental units exempt from rent control, effective Nov. 15, 2018, while preserving rent increase limits for existing tenants
  • Ending the previous government’s expensive and ineffective Development Charges Rebate Program
  • Seeking public input on ways the government can remove barriers to building the right kind of housing in the right places. This input will inform a broader housing supply action plan. The consultation includes a downloadable toolkit so community groups can host local roundtables and share their thoughts with the province.

 

The demand for housing in Ontario has risen rapidly in recent years, driven by strong population growth and low interest rates. However, the supply of housing has not kept pace, leading to higher prices and rents.

Building more housing will also help make Ontario more attractive to businesses and investors, restoring the province to its rightful place as the economic engine of Canada.

“High housing costs are a barrier to job creators, large and small, because employees need affordable places to live,” says Todd Smith, minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “Making housing more affordable will encourage people to start and grow businesses, right here at home.”

BILD reaction

“The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) of the GTA is very supportive of the development of a Housing Supply Action Plan for Ontario,” says David Wilkes, president and CEO. “Shortfall in supply is a key factor undermining housing affordability, increasing rents and creating barriers to home ownership. We applaud the Ford government’s commitment  to address key issues affecting the housing supply and ultimately the affordability of housing in the GTA.”

TREB approves

The Toronto Real Estate Board, for its part, applauds the Province’s announcement.

“The Toronto Real Estate Board applauds the provincial government for taking action to ensure that our city, region and province have an adequate supply and appropriate mix of housing,” TREB said in a release.

Nowhere are housing supply and mix issues more of a priority than in the GTA, where TREB’s 53,000 members operate, the association says. “TREB realtors work with home buyers and sellers every day and they see the challenges caused by inadequate supply and mix of housing.

“We look forward to participating in the provincial government’s consultation process on this issue and helping our region and province to remain one of the best places to live in the world.”

RELATED READING

Delays in approval process contributing to housing affordability issue in GTA

7 factors that will affect GTA housing in 2019 – and 5 reasons to consider buying NOW

5 steps to solving the housing affordability issue in Ontario

 

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