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November 01, 2018

How Can We Make a Difference in Affordable Housing?

How Can We Make a Difference in Affordable Housing?
Greg Bechard, executive director of Elmira Developmental Support Corporation sits in front of the Field of Dreams project, which offers supportive yet independent living for people with intellectual challenges. A great example of affordable housing that the NHS is hoping to inspire. For more details on the project, go to:
Over the last few years, there have been many articles written and news segments about decreasing housing affordability, especially in urban centres like Toronto and Vancouver.

While housing costs have increased for many Canadians, Canada remains one of the best housing systems in the world. As a result, almost 80% of Canadian households have their housing needs met through the marketplace. However, not everyone has the financial means to access or compete in the housing market. In these cases, governments, community organizations, non-profits and the private sector work together to provide affordable housing.
In Canada, housing is considered “affordable” if it costs less than 30% of a household’s before-tax income. Many people think the term “affordable housing” refers only to rental housing that is subsidized by the government. In reality, it’s a very broad term that can include housing provided by the private, public and non-profit sectors. It also includes all forms of housing tenure: rental, ownership and co-operative ownership, as well as temporary and permanent housing.
November20182-(1).jpgThe Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

A recent CMHC report also showed there are 1.7 million Canadian households in housing need, living in homes that are inadequate or unaffordable. Of that 1.7 million households, almost half (44%) live in Ontario.
So what can we do?
As part of our mandate, CMHC has been involved with helping Canadians in housing need gain access to suitable housing that they can afford and encouraging the development of affordable housing through our funding and outreach programs.
Last November, a 10-year, $40 billion National Housing Strategy (NHS) was announced. It will give more Canadians a place to call home and help address the housing needs of vulnerable Canadians. The NHS has set bold targets over the next 10 years, including removing 530,000 families from housing need and reducing chronic homelessness by 50%.
There are four key areas of the NHS that will help with affordable housing:
  1. The creation of new affordable housing with plans to create 100,000 new units.
  2. The renewal and renovation of the existing affordable housing stock with a goal of 300,000 units repaired.
  3. Expertise and resources to assist the community housing sector.
  4. Housing research, data and innovation to promote, evaluate and measure best practices. 
The NHS offers funding programs to support these areas, ranging from a National Housing Co-Investment fund to research grants and demonstration projects. The details of these programs are available on the NHS website
November20183.pngHere's how the National Housing Strategy will help Canadians access a safe, affordable home.

As planners, you know that affordable housing plays an important role in communities.
Your work is instrumental to ensuring the successful development of affordable housing, so knowing that this funding is available, can provide you with more resources for local projects.
Here are some other tools and resources that can help you in your work: Working together, we can build the next generation of housing in Canada and ensure everyone as a place to call home.
For more information visit:

The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author(s), and may not reflect the position of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute.

Post by Arlene Etchen

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