Coalition calls for concrete policy steps towards affordability

Affordable and market purpose-built rental units can play a major role in ensuring greater affordability, groups say

Coalition calls for concrete policy steps towards affordability

A coalition of Canadian housing sector organizations – including non-profit and for-profit housing providers, developers, and investors – have put together what they described as a “blueprint” to restoring housing affordability.

Spearheaded by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness and REALPAC, the National Housing Accord calls for the development of at least two million new affordable and market purpose-built rental units over the next seven years.

The coalition also called for stronger government support in the growth of non-profit housing, as well as policies that pave for the protection of those most in need.

“[We encourage] all political parties to support and agree to a bi-partisan policy accord to provide confidence to investors and the housing market,” the coalition said. “This is an achievable goal, with robust, urgent and immediate federal action, that the federal government could begin implementing in the upcoming fall economic statement.”

Greater investment, streamlined permit processes core to greater affordability

The coalition said that the federal government is ideally placed to create the conditions “for massive private investment in rental housing construction and to ramp up federal investment in deeply affordable, co-op and supportive housing.”

Reforming the National Building Code to pave the way for a more streamlined construction process would also ensure much-needed new homes over the next few years, while eliminating the GST/HST and changing capital cost allowance provisions on new purpose-built rental housing will be crucial to incentivizing even more construction, the group said.

The coalition also pushed for the creation of property acquisition programs for non-profit providers “to help purchase existing rental housing projects and hotels, and facilitate office-to-residential conversions,” coupled with the formation of a “Homelessness Prevention and Housing Benefit to provide immediate support for people at risk of homelessness.”

Adjustments to the Canada Housing Benefit to better support individuals and families in the greatest need, along with long-term fixed-rate financing for purpose-built rental housing, will further help ensure affordability, the National Housing Accord said.