Toronto Star

Building homes that people can afford

- Bryan Tuckey Bryan Tuckey is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Developmen­t Associatio­n and a land-use planner who has worked for municipal, regional and provincial government­s. Follow him on Twitter @bildgta,, and

“Affordable housing” and “housing affordabil­ity” are not the same thing. But addressing one can impact the other.

Simply put, affordable housing is housing for people in need. This can include seniors, young families, low- and moderate-income workers, people with special needs and the homeless.

There are many kinds of affordable housing and it can include low-cost market housing as well as subsidized rental housing.

Housing affordabil­ity is the degree to which housing is attainable to anyone at any income level.

We all recognize that the GTA is in need of affordable housing and that there are challenges in building more of it.

One of the biggest obstacles is the lack of federal and provincial government funding and incentives. In the last few decades, delivering affordable housing has largely shifted to municipali­ties and social agencies, who have limited resources and turn to private developers.

At the same time, we know that it is becoming harder for many people in the GTA to find homes at prices they can afford.

The average price of a new singledeta­ched home is more than $800,000 and the average price of a new condo is at least $400,000.

As well as more affordable housing, the GTA needs homes that people of all income levels can afford to purchase. We need to ensure that we increase the amount of affordable housing without impacting the affordabil­ity of housing for everyone.

Policies and programs that make housing more expensive for everyone should be avoided. There are unintended consequenc­es when municipali­ties mandate the inclusion of a set number of affordable housing units within a market building or project.

It’s not cheaper to build them. The cost to create affordable homes is spread across the other units and is ultimately paid by the other homebuyers. So how can we make it happen without affecting the ability for people to still buy homes?

Municipali­ties can leverage the land that they own and include the cost of delivering affordable-housing units in the asking price. Adding the cost of providing affordable­housing units after the land is purchased can make the project unfeasible.

Other ways include municipali­ties working with the developmen­t industry to save time and money, especially when a project that includes affordable-housing units is going through the planning process.

Cities can also encourage the constructi­on of affordable housing by updating zoning bylaws and determinin­g from the outset where this type of housing is needed. They can offer incentives to support the business case for an affordable housing project or units within a developmen­t.

Incentives could be financial, such as phasing, deferring or waiving developmen­t charges, but others could be reducing parking requiremen­ts or the parkland dedication required.

Most importantl­y, the need for affordable housing cannot outweigh the need to keep all homes in the GTA affordable for people to purchase.

 ?? DREAMSTIME ?? One of the biggest obstacles to building more affordable housing is the lack of government funding and incentives, Brian Tuckey writes.
DREAMSTIME One of the biggest obstacles to building more affordable housing is the lack of government funding and incentives, Brian Tuckey writes.
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