The affordable housing dilemma – January 31st, 2018

Good morning subscribers and welcome to this week’s edition of the Morning Brief! With the waitlist for affordable housing in Ontario at nearly 200,000 households, affordable housing policy couldn’t be more of an important issue. The articles below examine some key housing challenges at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels.

This week’s Morning Brief was prepared by Cindy Liu. Sign up here to receive the Morning Brief directly to your inbox.


  • Canadians are getting affordable housing help with the Canada Housing Benefit – but details on how exactly the Benefit will work are still up in the air. The Housing Benefit is part of the new 10-year National Housing Strategy and will provide rent support to the poorest Canadians. Marvin Ferrer examines some potential options for the Benefit, such as a flexible cash transfer, or a more restrictive voucher system [Ferrer/PPGR].
  • Half of Toronto residents who plan to buy a home in the next two years seek a detached house – even with average detached home prices in the city hitting $1,573,622! Choosing a single-family home is not without its drawbacks – other than the issue of affordability, this type of housing causes environmental harm and health issues like obesity. Read on to find out why home-buyers shouldn’t be so quick to discount the benefits of mid and high-rise dwellings [Caicco/PPGR].
  • Ontario’s approach to creating affordable housing involves the “inclusionary zoning” policy, which allows cities to demand that developers set aside a percentage of units for low-income people when undertaking major residential projects. With the policy now up for public review, several concerns have emerged, such as the small percentage (5-10%) of low-income units required, and the fact that municipalities will have to foot 40% of the bill [Crawley/CBC News].
  • Canada has made it onto Amazon’s short-list for its potential second HQ. Although this is exciting news for Toronto and other Canadian cities hoping to attract high-tech employers, there’s the pressing issue of where all these new workers are going to live. Don Pittis argues that restrictive zoning rules have created a housing shortage in Toronto by favouring low-rise housing in the city’s inner suburbs and outer core, making it difficult for developers to build higher density housing [Pittis/CBC News].

We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s batch of articles! The next edition of the Brief will be making its way into your inboxes on February 7th.