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Affordable Housing Solutions in Ontario: Debrief from Chamber of Commerce & Grey County Reports

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

TL;DR: This debrief examines two pivotal reports on affordable housing solutions in Ontario: The Ontario Chamber of Commerce's comprehensive study, recently shared by the Saugeen Shores Chamber of Commerce, and Grey County's Housing Action Plan. Together, they offer a wealth of recommendations, from workforce development and innovative housing technologies to public education, all aimed at tackling the province's housing affordability crisis.


Introduction

In the quest to understand the intricacies of affordable housing solutions in Ontario, two reports stand out: The Ontario Chamber of Commerce's comprehensive study and Grey County's Housing Action Plan.


This debrief delves into the key takeaways from both, highlighting pivotal recommendations, innovative strategies, and the collaborative efforts being made at both provincial and local levels to address the housing affordability crisis in the region.


Key Affordable Housing Challenges in Ontario

  1. Labour and Demographics: The housing affordability crisis is impacting businesses' ability to attract and retain talent. This exacerbates challenges related to ongoing labour shortages, an aging workforce, and the housing crisis itself. The construction sector, vital for housing development, faces heightened job vacancies.

  2. Rising Costs: The escalating costs of homes in Ontario have outpaced average income growth.

  3. Limited Supply: A scarcity of affordable housing units has led to increased demand, further driving up prices.

  4. Lack of Innovative Solutions: Traditional methods are no longer sufficient. Innovative affordable housing solutions are essential to address current challenges.

Key Recommendations

  1. Workforce Development: The report underscores the need for robust workforce strategies. This includes fast-tracking immigration and expanding opportunities for international students as part of the affordable housing solution.

  2. Innovative Housing Solutions: Emphasis on training in cutting-edge housing technologies, such as modular construction, 3D-printed housing, tiny homes, and more. The report presents these as key components of the broader affordable housing solutions.

  3. Public Education & Governance: Enhanced public education about affordable housing and clearer governance policies are advocated. This includes supporting the development and expansion of innovative technologies and data tools, such as the Rural Housing Information System.

  4. Promoting Social Cohesion: The report suggests fostering social cohesion and promoting diverse housing types as integral to the affordable housing solutions. This includes sharing best practices around maximizing occupancy of existing homes and supporting innovative, age-friendly housing models.

Affordable Housing Highlighted Case Studies


Rural Housing Information System (RHIS): A pioneering tool designed to support affordable housing solutions in rural Ontario. The RHIS centralizes relevant regional housing data, supporting strategic housing development planning. This tool is available to Rural Ontario Institute Municipal members currently. They plan to be provide builders and developers access in the fall of 2023.


North Church Court in Niagara Region: An initiative that stands out as an effective affordable housing solution, offering permanent supportive housing to those in need. North Church Court provides permanent supportive housing for men, women and families of low to moderate income with a focus on those who are homeless due to issues with poverty, physical disability, mental health, domestic violence and family breakdown.

Note additional case studies are featured in the full report.


Grey County's Forward-Thinking Approach to Affordable Housing

Building on the insights from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce report, it's worth highlighting the specific efforts of regions like Grey County.

Their Housing Action Plan showcases a commitment to addressing housing challenges through collaboration with various stakeholders, including small businesses, entrepreneurs, investors, and developers.

  • Stakeholder Collaboration: Much like the broader recommendations of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce report, Grey County emphasizes collaboration. Their Residence Sharing App initiative, which supports platforms like Happipad, mirrors the broader provincial push for innovative housing solutions.

  • Planning and Development: Grey County's efforts to streamline planning processes and update official plans align with the province-wide call for clearer governance policies. By expediting these processes, Grey County is creating a more developer-friendly environment, which can potentially lead to quicker housing solutions.

  • Community Engagement: The establishment of the Affordable Housing Community of Practice (CoP) in Grey County is a testament to the importance of community engagement. This mirrors the Ontario Chamber of Commerce's emphasis on promoting social cohesion and public education.

Watch the presentation to Grey County Council on the Housing Action Plan. The presentation by Grey County Policy Planner Liz Buckton lasts 25 minutes with an addtional 40 minutes of Q&A.



Affordable Housing Projects Underway in Owen Sound

New 40-unit Apartment Building

A recent initiative in Owen Sound showcases the power of local efforts in addressing the housing crisis. Lutheran Social Services Owen Sound is planning a 40-unit apartment building specifically for those in “severe need” of affordable housing.


This project is a testament to the collaborative efforts between local organizations, city officials, and other stakeholders. The project's funding model, which involves the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Rapid Housing Initiative, serves as an example of how financial support can be secured.


Sylvia Statham, the executive director of LSSOS, emphasized the importance of collaboration and the challenges of meeting tight timelines while ensuring the project's success.


This initiative in Owen Sound serves as a real-world example of innovative affordable housing solutions being implemented at the local level.


Glassworks Cooperative

Glassworks Cooperative

In the heart of Owen Sound, the Glassworks Cooperative stands as a beacon of sustainable and affordable housing. With a mission to benefit the community, Glassworks is set on 46 acres of land, dedicated to fostering economic growth and supporting local businesses.


Upholding values like resiliency, environmental advocacy, and mutual respect, the cooperative is a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives. As a member of the Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada, Glassworks emphasizes democratic control, economic participation, and a deep concern for the community.


Their commitment to reconciliation and decolonization is evident in their acknowledgment of the Anishnaabek Nation as the traditional custodians of the land. This initiative serves as a shining example of how cooperatives can drive positive change in the housing sector.

 
 

Conclusion

The housing affordability crisis in Ontario is a multifaceted challenge that requires innovative and sustainable solutions at both the provincial and local levels. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce's report provides a comprehensive roadmap, emphasizing the importance of collaboration across sectors, public education, and innovative strategies.


Meanwhile, regions like Grey County are taking these recommendations to heart, implementing localized strategies that align with the broader provincial vision. Their proactive approach, especially in fostering collaboration and community engagement, serves as a testament to the potential of local efforts in addressing housing challenges.


As we move forward, it's essential to recognize and support these combined efforts, ensuring a brighter and more affordable housing future for all Ontarians.


Call to Action

For a deeper understanding of the proposed affordable housing solutions in Ontario, we encourage you to read the full Ontario Chamber of Commerce report. Additionally, delve into Grey County's Housing Action Plan to witness how local regions are translating these recommendations into actionable strategies.


Your insights, experiences, and thoughts on these recommendations are invaluable. Join the conversation, share this post, and let's collectively shape a more affordable housing future for Ontario.

 

Sources: Grey County's Housing Action Plan, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Post Media, Grey County Council Meeting.

 

About the Author

Chris Herbert spearheads Mi6 Agency, emphasizing small business growth and entrepreneurship. On the agency's blog, he offers practical marketing insights and solutions to unique challenges faced by businesses. Herbert advocates for sustainable and responsible growth. His "Rural Entrepreneur Podcast" extends this mission, providing essential advice and experiences for entrepreneurs. He adopts a comprehensive approach, focusing on building sustainable businesses, community engagement, and active participation in entrepreneurial ventures.

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