The Ontario government says it's planning to launch a Housing Affordability Task Force, as prices for homes continue to rise to unrealistic heights as supply continues to deplete within the province’s heated housing market.
Last week, the provincial government released its 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, which was chock full of updates on the province’s yearly budget and new commitments, including one line promising the establishment of a housing affordability task force to provide recommendations to the minister of municipal affairs and housing, Steve Clark.
"While Ontario is already seeing signs of progress and housing starts have trended upwards, there is still more to do. As a next step, the government proposes to establish a Housing Affordability Task Force to provide recommendations to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on potential further actions to make housing more affordable for Ontario families," reads the 198-page document.
The announcement comes at a time when housing supply is at a historic low, which continues to push prices higher year after year while the salaries of Ontario’s families struggle to keep up. Subsequently, the dream of owning a home is becoming further out of reach for many Ontarians, which has led to real estate groups calling on political leaders for more support.
“The only sustainable way to address housing affordability in the GTA is to deal with the persistent mismatch between demand and supply. Demand isn’t going away. And that’s why all three levels of government need to focus on supply,” said TRREB President Kevin Crigger.
“The federal government has stated that collaboration with provinces and municipalities is required. This collaboration could be spearheaded, at least in part, with housing-related incentives tied to federal infrastructure investment,” said Crigger.
Just last week, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) released its October data, revealing that new listings decreased more than 34% year-over-year. With fewer homes on the market, and buyer demand rising, the average price for a home sold soared by almost 20% to nearly $1.2 million in October, up 19.3% from $968,535 in the same month last year, while the MLS Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark was up by 24.2% year-over-year.
The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) says it has been fighting for the government to address the province's housing affordability crisis and that there are "huge wins for realtors" in the fall economic statement.
"We're pleased with the Ford government’s commitment to creating a Housing Affordability Task Force, which will study and determine further actions to create more housing and help bring affordability closer to Ontario families. We look forward to an opportunity to support the work of the task force in any way possible with the expertise of Ontario realtors and research, said OREA CEO, Tim Hudak.
OREA also said it would like to see the government take several steps to address the housing affordability crisis, including ending exclusionary single-family zoning, doubling the land transfer tax rebate, and making surplus government land available for development.
“Our government believes everyone deserves a place to call home. Our government’s policies under the Housing Supply Action Plan are working to increase supply and make it easier for Ontarians to find the right home for them: in 2020, the year after our Housing Supply Action Plan was implemented, Ontario had the highest level of housing starts in a decade and the highest level of rental starts since 1992," said Zoe Knowles, Minister Clark’s Director of Communications.
"But we know there is still more to do, which is why we are creating a Housing Affordability Task Force to identify further opportunities to get shovels in the ground faster, remove duplication and barriers, and make housing more affordable for hardworking Ontarians. It will explore measures to support market housing supply and affordability, and provide the government with strategies and advice to continue to address Ontario’s housing crisis," said Knowles.
Knowles added that the government will be providing more details in the near future.
The government has also proposed in its fall economic statement to enhance the Brownfield Financial Tax incentive program that encourages the rehabilitation of contaminated land in order to spur more development, including housing. The incentive will be worth $2-million in 2022-23.
While the creation of the Housing Affordability Task Force is surely taking a step, as the government said in the report, there is still much more that needs to be done to improve the lack of affordable housing.