Home Stretched: Tackling Ontario's Housing Affordability Crisis Through Innovative Solutions and Partnerships
The cost of housing is impacting communities of all sizes across Ontario. It’s limiting the buying power of households, impacting businesses’ ability to attract and retain talent, and exacerbating homelessness rates throughout the province.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) recently released Home Stretched: Tackling Ontario's Housing Affordability Crisis Through Innovative Solutions and Partnerships, outlining opportunities for the private, public, and non-profit sectors to explore innovative partnerships and approaches to address housing affordability and supply, and recommendations to build on successful models. The OCC report is in partnership with Desjardins, Cadillac Fairview, and the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario. It builds on research from a series of regional housing affordability roundtables with a diverse range of housing sector stakeholders.
The Government of Ontario has committed to building 1.5 million new homes by 2031 to help mitigate this crisis. This goal will require strategic action and significant collaboration across sectors and all levels of government. It will require the public, private and non-profit sectors to work together.
The housing crisis in Ontario has reached a critical point, with significant challenges related to both affordability and supply. Peterborough has not been immune to these pressures, as rising housing costs are impacting many of our businesses' ability to attract and retain labour. At the same time, higher housing costs leave less income available to spend on other goods and services, which directly affects our community’s long-term economic growth.
The executive summary from the report sums up a lot about the current situation:
While distinct, housing supply and affordability challenges are mutually reinforcing: as mid-high income earners are priced out of the real estate market, they are increasingly occupying market rental housing for longer, contributing to low vacancy rates and rising rental rates. This puts additional downward pressure on the limited supply of more affordable, non-market housing options, where waitlists can reach up to 12 years across the province, further compounding the homelessness crisis. At the same time, social and economic pressures, such as inflation and supply chain challenges, are contributing to rising costs for housing development (which has not kept pace with demand), while hindering mobility along the housing continuum.
The OCC report highlights some key statistics:
• 211,419 households on social housing waitlists
• Provincial rental vacancy rate of 1.8% (3% is considered healthy)
• The average house price is now 11.5 times annual household income
• Rent has increased by 17.1% over the last year, now sitting at an average of $2,401
• 22,000+ construction job vacancies
• 68% of organizations in Ontario continue to report labour shortages in their respective industries
• 1.85 million additional units would be needed in Ontario beyond what is already being built or in the pipeline to restore housing affordability
The OCC policy brief provides all levels of government and industry with recommendations under the following themes: Labour and Demographics, the Housing Continuum, and Infrastructure and Land Use Planning.
The report has 34 recommendations, including:
• Continue to establish and deliver on inclusive workforce development and immigration strategies to increase the labour pool needed to build more housing.
• Incentivize the development and preservation of affordable housing options along the continuum, including purpose-built rentals, missing middle, student, non-profit, cooperative, and supportive housing.
• Support the development and expansion of innovative technologies, data tools, retrofitting, building conversions, as well as mixed-use and climate-resilient green housing.
Housing is at the root of a lot of issues we’re facing in Ontario. It’s contributing to the rising cost of living, limiting labour mobility, and leaving people without homes altogether. For the sake of our communities, we need to encourage our governments to work with the private and non-profit sectors to enact a wide range of policies to address our current housing crunch. The Home Stretched report is a good place to start.