BRUCE COUNTY – Staff have been working with a consulting firm to develop the affordable housing toolkit.
Phase one of the toolkit was launched May 5. It’s a web-based document that provides pertinent information on affordable housing, and profiles the eight municipalities with data for each.
Christine MacDonald, director of human services, spoke on this “exciting initiative,” which will see future additions focusing on large- and medium-density developments.
Affordable Housing 101 is based on the premise that increasing the stock of affordable housing is a key strategy in addressing homelessness in Bruce County. The plan is important not only for people who need homes, but also for local communities and economies.
The website is for developers, builders, landlords and homeowners interested in creating affordable housing in Bruce County, providing step-by-step guides, tools and other resources.
County Coun. Luke Charbonneau, Saugeen Shores, thanked staff for working on this “important initiative,” and said he was looking forward to seeing the next phases. He described phase one as “an important step along the road.”
Warden Janice Jackson, South Bruce Peninsula, said phase one is “a great piece of work” and said she particularly likes the details provided for each municipality.
According to the toolkit website, it is broadly accepted that housing is affordable when a household is not spending more than 30 per cent of its income on housing costs.
The province has also defined affordable housing thresholds for households of low and moderate income. For housing ownership, the affordable housing threshold is housing that is affordable to households with incomes at the 60th percentile. For renter households, the affordable housing threshold is 100 per cent of average market rent as published by Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC).
In Bruce County, the affordable housing thresholds for 2020 are rents below $1,014 and ownership costs below $346,600.
It is projected that over the next 25 years, Bruce County will have an older than average population, marked by an influx of younger retirees and population growth in younger age brackets. Building affordable housing of various types and forms in Bruce County will create housing options that reflect the life stages of individuals and families, contributing to the development of complete and inclusive communities. Housing is a major contributor to economic growth, social stability, and household wealth, while supporting community wellbeing and prosperity.
In recent years, housing unaffordability in Bruce County has been driven by three factors: a general shortage of new housing construction, a lack of diversity in built forms, and an increase in demand for housing as more people are coming to settle in Bruce County, driven by economic opportunities and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is a particular need for one- and two-bedroom units in Bruce County. In 2016, only 24.9 per cent of all homes in Bruce County had two bedrooms or less. This issue can begin to limit employment growth in Bruce County as low- and moderate-income workers migrating to the county will have greater difficulty finding places to live.
In 2021, there were approximately 634 applicants on the waitlist for community housing which is a 29.3 per cent increase from 2018. Most applicants (95 per cent) in 2021 requested rent-geared-to-income housing. This demonstrates the significant need for subsidized housing options and the affordability challenges faced by lower income households throughout the county.
Bruce County is committed to helping property owners build more affordable housing, especially those units which meet demand for the “missing middle” housing stock. Towards this end, the county is in the process of investigating new tools, including consideration of a new development charges waiver program, which would be targeted towards the construction of new affordable housing.