Markham’s new strategy opens door to affordable housing

·2 min read

Given the result of a multi-phase study on housing affordability, Markham city council has taken steps to provide affordable housing.

“The Housing Choices: Markham’s Affordable and Rental Housing Strategy” received council’s stamp of approval on June 14.

The strategy is the result of a multi-phase study. It found that one in three households have housing affordability issues and nearly one in five households are spending half or more of their income on housing.

The report also noted that the average price of a resale home in Markham has doubled over the last 10 years and the average market rent is increasing faster than inflation.

This leads to the conclusion that Markham needs affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households to support growing families, seniors aging in place and recent graduates looking for their first home.

Just one day before the strategy got its stamp of approval from council, the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) released polling data showing Ontarians feel housing affordability in the province is getting worse.

The report found that 46 per cent of prospective home buyers under the age of 45 have considered or are considering moving out of the province to afford a home. More than half of these buyers (56 per cent) are pessimistic about the possibility of buying a home in the community they want to live in.

(Housing Affordability In Ontario Perceptions, Impacts And Solutions, OREA, July 2021)

“The affordability crisis continues to crush the dream of home ownership for many Ontarians, and this has been intensified by the economic impact of the pandemic,” said OREA CEO Tim Hudak.

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti said the green light put in place targeted measures to address affordability challenges, increase supply and retain and attract families to the city.

“In my council inaugural address in 2018, I committed to addressing this growing concern with various industry and community stakeholders in order to begin a process of building more affordable and rental housing in Markham.”

Over the next 12 months, Markham will prioritize five of 35 actions included in the strategy. It will develop an inclusionary zoning bylaw for major transit station areas, review permissions for additional residential units, use public lands for affordable housing, develop incentive packages for affordable/supportive housing and facilitate partnerships for affordable housing.

The Markham Inter-Church Committee for Affordable Housing (MICAH) applauded the approval of the strategy.

“It is a progressive step in the right direction to address the affordable housing crisis.”

Irene Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Economist & Sun

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