Ambitious housing target needs ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach: Ontario Chamber of Commerce

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A housing crisis driving up purchase prices and rents across Ontario could damage local economies and worsen the labour shortage in towns and cities, says a report by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

“Meeting the provincial target of building 1.5 million homes by 2031 will require an all-hands-on-deck approach: the private, public, and non-profit sectors all have critical roles to play to foster an inclusive labour force, champion affordable housing solutions, and promote complete communities,” the report states.

Barrie is not immune to the pressures, as rising housing costs are impacting businesses’ ability to attract and retain employees. Similar concerns are being voiced by officials in cities and towns of all sizes across the province.

The Government of Ontario has committed to building 1.5 million new homes by 2031 to help mitigate this crisis, a goal that will require strategic action and significant collaboration across sectors and all levels of govern ent.

Home Stretched: Tackling Ontario’s Housing Affordability Crisis Through Innovative Solutions and Partnerships, the OCC report, outlines opportunities for private, public, and non-profit sectors to explore partnerships and approaches to address housing affordability and supply, and recommendations to build on successful models.

“The growing mismatch between housing supply and demand in communities across Ontario has made it more difficult for employers to fill labour gaps, particularly as the global competition for talent heats up,” said Rocco Rossi, president and CEO, OCC. “To ensure the long-term resilience of our economy, we encourage governments to balance consultation with bold action, such as ending exclusionary zoning and working in partnership with public and private sector partners to address labour shortages.”

The chamber’s recommendations for Ontario:

  • establish and deliver on inclusive workforce development and immigration strategies to increase the labour pool needed to build more housing.
  • incentivize the development and preservation of affordable housing options along the continuum, including purpose-built rentals, missing middle, student, non-profit, cooperative, and supportive housing.
  • support the development and expansion of innovative technologies, data tools, retrofitting, building conversions, as well as mixed-use and climate-resilient green housing.

The report notes mid-high income earners are now being priced out of the housing market across the province, and wait lists for the limited supply of more affordable, nonmarket options can reach up to 12 years. This is also compounding the homelessness crisis.

“While distinct, housing supply and affordability challenges are mutually reinforcing: as mid-high income earners are priced out of the real estate market, they are increasingly occupying market rental housing for longer, contributing to low vacancy rates and rising rental rates,” Rossi said in the report summary. “This puts additional downward pressure on the limited supply of more affordable, non-market housing options, where waitlists can reach up to 12 years across the province, further compounding the homelessness crisis.”