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Civic Impact

York Regional Council approves 10-year housing plan

York Region is home to some of Canada's fastest growing municipalities. But the growth of housing options has not kept par with the growth--and the increasing economic diversity--of the Region.

Between 2001 and 2006, there was a 55 per cent increase in York's low income population (1 in 8 people) and the poverty rate is growing 2.5 times faster than the percentage increase in the total population.

The housing market, however, is ill-suited to handle this demographic transition. York Region has one of the highest average rents in the GTA; the result of the lowest proportion of rental housing in the GTA and an extremely low vacancy rate. The affordable housing gap is further exacerbated by the fact that most York Region municipalities have limited social housing programs and a high-cost home ownership market (the average cost of a new single-detached home is more than $700,000). 

In order to address the Region's significant housing issues, the Regional Municipality of York--a confederation of the nine York municipalities including Markham, Vaughan, and Richmond Hill--has recently approved the draft of ambitious decade-long plan to diversify the region's housing landscape.

The document 10-Year Housing Plan, Housing Solutions: A place for everyone is currently open for feedback (check it out here) and, after incorporating revisions based on citizen and stakeholder consultations, will be presented to Regional Council for approval in early 2014.

The plan outlines over 60 specific actions to support four main housing goals: increasing the rental housing supply, supporting the existing rental housing supply, supporting home ownership affordability, and strengthening the homelessness and housing stability system.

While there is currently no price tag attached to proposed measures, A place for everyone calls for, among other things, a continuation of previous Regional investments in housing, further incorporation of housing goals in Regional and local official plans and better collaborating with affordable housing stakeholders .

Importantly, this is not the first time that York's Regional council has stepped in to ameliorate the housing situation in recent years. In 2002, council approved the York Region Housing Supply Strategy, a strategy which saw over $200 million invested in affordable housing (the result included the construction of over 734 new affordable rental units).

"Regional Council is committed to finding appropriate housing choices for everyone," stated York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch on the day of the draft approval. "With an increasing and diversifying population, creating successful housing options depends on the support and engagement of government, housing providers, community agencies, the housing development industry and the community."

Wrtier: Katia Snukal
Source: The Regional Municipality of York 
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