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Will the “More Homes, More Choice” Act solve Ontario’s supply gap?

At an affordable housing roundtable in Brockville this week, an Ontario government official addressed the housing supply shortage affecting the province by drawing attention to a key reversal measure.

“Through the More Homes, More Choice Act, our government has acted quickly to address the housing crisis we inherited,” said Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark. “As Minister, I’m committed to continuing to work with all partners to increase housing supply and to give people more housing options, while bringing prices down.”

Talk at the roundtable sounded much like discussions in the rest of the province, especially southern Ontario. The roundtable, organized by the Ontario Real Estate Association, focused on the More Homes, More Choice Act’s intended outcomes.

Matthew Thornton, OREA’s vice president of public affairs & communications, says red tape is to blame for the difficulty in bringing housing to market commensurately with demand.

“The supply challenges in the eastern region of Ontario are largely driven by red tape constraints around development, which are needless,” he said. “There are barriers to getting shovels in the ground and getting more homes built for people. What the government is trying to do, as part of the legislation it moved forward with More Homes, More Choice Act, is reduce those barriers so that developers can build more housing and more housing types for more people. Over time, that will help with some of the affordability challenges people are experiencing.”

Thornton fervently believes the time is nigh to explore, and encourage development of, different housing types because not everybody gravitates towards entry-level homeownership and, moreover, one weak link in the chain impedes mobility throughout the rest of the housing market.

“More Homes, More Choice tackles things like building more secondary suites and streamlining the rules about how secondary suites are regulated,” he said. “Secondary suites are a great housing option, an infill housing option, that a lot of renters—be they students or young people using it as a transition property to get into the market, or even seniors—can use to bring down their costs.”

The provincial real estate association has long advocated for easier entry into the market for first-time buyers, and with homeownership rates on the decline, Thornton says immediate action is imperative.

“There’s real urgency about this issue, and what the roundtable was intended to do—and to give credit to the Minster and the government on this—is find meaningful solutions to tackle this problem in a meaningful way,” he said. “It’s a province-wide problem; in a lot of markets, young families struggle with affordability and being able to achieve the Canadian dream of homeownership.”

by Neil Sharma

02 Aug 2019


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