Region ‘making progress’ on housing plan

York Region is reporting progress on its 10-year housing plan, including the development of two new Housing York buildings that will provide more than 420 units of affordable rental options upon completion.

The buildings – one located in the Vaughan and the other in Markham – are among the highlights of the progress it’s making in Housing Solutions; A place for everyone. The Region’s 10-year housing plan includes four goals:

• Increase the supply of rental housing
• Sustain the existing rental supply
• Support home ownership
• Strengthen the homelessness and housing stability system

Most of the actions identified in the plan are complete or currently underway, the Region reports. It’s working with local municipal partners to examine options for encouraging purpose-built rental housing for mid-range income households, for example. It has also proved the Home Now Program, which supports residents experiencing chronic homelessness to find permanent housing and receive individualized supports to remain housed.

York currently has the lowest proportion of rental housing in the Greater Toronto Area and a vacancy rate that hovers around one per cent – compared to the three per cent that experts say indicates a healthy rental market, it notes in the 32-page report. Because of the lack of rental options, individuals and families may be forced into home ownership that’s beyond their budgets or to move outside of the region. Those who opt to stay near their places of work and pay more than the affordable rate of 30 per cent of income on housing, place themselves in vulnerable financial situations, often cutting back on other essentials like food and heating, it adds.

“As the income gap expands and the cost of living rises, residents of York Region are experiencing an increase in housing insecurity,” says Town of Newmarket Regional Councillor John Taylor, Chair of Community and Health Services. “More middle-income families are finding themselves in tough situations and it is important the Region continues to take steps to ensure everyone has a safe place to call home.”

York is initiating a five-year review of the Housing Plan, including an updated assessment of its current and future housing needs and consultations with stakeholders and community partners. An updated housing plan will be brought forward to Regional Council in 2019.

It’s also updating York Region Affordable Housing Measuring and Monitoring guidelines and is working with developers to create more mid-range affordable housing. It will also continue to look to federal and provincial government funding initiatives for additional support. For more information on York Region’s housing programs, visit york.ca/housing.

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