March 24, 2016
Author: John Fox
In my last blog on Inclusionary Zoning, I suggested that the housing sector and the development community get together to discuss the issue before government consultations. Here is how that can work:
Both sectors have umbrella organizations and they should connect. A first step would be for our friends at BILD to meet with our other friends at housing sector organizations like the Housing and Renewal Association or the Ontario Not for Profit Housing Association and our friends at the City’s Affordable Housing Office. Yes, we at Robins have lots of friends!
What might be on the agenda?
First, we need to be on the same page as to what types of housing are best suited to inclusionary zoning and how we can make a lasting dent in the housing wait list through this effort. That means going through different types of housing and the pros and cons of including them in private development.
The housing spectrum runs from rent geared to income social housing to market ownership. When we think of Affordable Housing that can include social housing, but also affordable rental (rent set as a function of CMHC average rent), affordable ownership (second mortgages with interest and principal payments deferred), supportive housing (special supports for residents) or even targeted live/work type units (for example Artscape units), and others.
Some will be an easier fit than others. Affordable ownership is, for example, an easy fit into the condo structure. It is (most often) a straightforward transaction involving a second mortgage that is repaid when the unit is sold. In this way, the amount a buyer needs to borrow and service from a traditional mortgagee is lowered. The program has the added benefit of enlarging the market of buyers for condominium units. Now there is possible win for both housing advocates and the development community.
Even with ownership, however, there are still challenges for the group to consider: How do we keep the unit affordable permanently? Who funds the second mortgages? If it’s the developer, do we recycle the funds when paid back or does the developer recover its loan at that point? Or a combination of both?
My point is twofold: First, the development and housing sectors need to make sure that they are speaking the same language on this. (At the risk of being self-serving, see my panel at this year’s Land and Development Conference for a start). Second, let’s find ways to Inclusionary Zoning that has maximum impact on what we are trying to achieve: creating affordable homes. That means working together.