Housing supply has not kept up with the additional demands generated by increasing life expectancy, immigration and the rise in one person households.
Affordable housing no longer means just providing some accommodations for low income earners. Finding housing that most people can afford is the issue now. Housing development in recent years has been like the auto industry over the years…big cars with lots of expensive options. As you may remember the auto industry has had its share of trouble a few times as a result. Not everyone wants, needs or can afford a big expensive car. Similarly, not everyone wants, needs, or can afford big and/or expensive housing.
This is not an issue that one person, or one level of government can fix. There is not a simple, one approach solution. Research shows that innovation is most possible when practitioners from planning, housing, architecture, community development, economics, finance and the law work together in providing affordable housing…SUPPORTED BY POLITICAL WILL.
Attention must be paid to designing new forms of affordable housing by departing from conventional standard form – in terms of size, design, materials used, increased densities and use of existing buildings.
The McGill University School of Architecture designed housing for low income renters that are willing to buy cheaper, well designed, smaller properties with an option to complete some of the construction themselves.
Mixed use development with a transition from single use to mixed use is one key to success as it provides an opportunity add in affordabliity.
Redevelopment offers opportunities when a public-private partnership gives benefits to the developer…for example using public land for a mixed income development can provide deeper subsidy for affordable housing.
Growth on transit routes and adjacent to commercial business centres enables much higher intensity and is simply sound land use and transportation planning.
Accessory Dwelling Units…such as accessory apartments, granny flats, in-law suites increase density by providing small, affordable units. With an aging population and more young singles and couples this provides an affordable alternative.
To increase supply and address affordability, municipalities can provide tax breaks, lower development charges, expedited approvals and inspections if the dwellings meet affordability requirements.
Engage the community…developers, elected officials and municipal staff must make every effort to communicate with and address the needs and concerns of the community.