The Ontario government recently convened the Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force, meant to address the growing issue of housing needs across the province. Despite the slow decline in housing starts over the past several decades, and the exacerbating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 saw a sharp increase in housing starts, which sets an optimistic start to the push to increase Ontario’s housing supply. The Task Force recently published a report outlining 55 recommendations to spur on this progress, with the primary goal being to build 1.5 million new housing units over the next 10 years to close Ontario’s housing gap.
/ Housing Crisis
Affordable housing, both for prospective homeowners and renters, is in very short supply across the province. The rise in house prices has been outpacing income increases across Canada in leaps and bounds, with most young Canadians viewing homeownership as a pipedream at this point. The median household income before taxes in Ontario (as of the 2016 census) was $74,260. In the same year, the average Ontario house price was nearly $550,000. The disparity between household income and house prices has only deepened since then, with the average Ontario house price currently at roughly $750,000. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the demand for housing across the province, and there is little indication that the market will cool in the short term.
Affordable housing, both for prospective homeowners and renters, is in very short supply across the province. Rental vacancy rates in major urban centres typically being lower than the recommended “healthy” rate of 3-5%. Households renting long term can carry an unfair stigma that they are less financially stable or are somehow lacking in character if they are unable to afford to buy a house or condo. There is also a misplaced but common concern that the presence of affordable housing in a community will lower property values and/or increase crime rates in the area.