Housing – 3 articles 1) Average Rental Price Hit Record High In Canada, Double Digit Spike in Barrie 2) Feds Unveil First Deal For New Housing Accelerator Fund 3)Housing Gap Steady As Lower Incomes Expected To Offset Construction Slowdown: CMHC

1)Average Rental Price Hit Record High In Canada, Double Digit Spike in Barrie

Courtesy of Barrie360.com

Ian MacLennanPublished: Sep 13th, 2023

The rent’s due, and for tenants looking for a place to live at a reasonable monthly rate, it is becoming more challenging.

Rentals-dot-ca https://rentals.ca/national-rent-report says the average rent being paid in Canada hit $2,117 a month in August, the highest it has ever been, up 9.6 per cent from a year ago.

Vancouver continued to lead the pack with average monthly rent for a one-bedroom at just under $3,000.

In Barrie, average rent for a one-bedroom climbed 11.3 per cent year-over-year in August to $1,915, and a jump of 1.3 per cent compared to July.

Rentals-dot-ca says while the annual rate of inflation for asking rents was lower than the 12 per cent increase recorded a year ago in August 2022, it represented a four-month high.

Of the 35 cities listed, Saskatoon had the cheapest average rent for a one-bedroom at just over a thousand bucks a month.

2) Feds Unveil First Deal For New Housing Accelerator Fund

Courtesy of Barrie 360.com and Canadian PressPublished: Sep 13th, 2023

By Dylan Robertson in London

More than 2,000 new housing units could be built in London, Ont., over the next three years as the city became the first in the country to sign a deal under the new national housing accelerator fund on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was issuing a challenge to other mayors to “step up with their proposals” and “build more homes faster.”

The announcement comes as the Liberals are facing heavy pressure — from Canadians and their political opponents — to respond to a housing shortage that is compounded by two years of high inflation.

The Liberal caucus is meeting in London for a retreat before the House of Commons resumes sitting next week, and Trudeau is expected to get an earful from his MPs about the party’s flagging fortunes in the polls.

The $4-billion housing accelerator program was first announced in the 2022 federal budget but applications weren’t accepted until July.

Trudeau blamed municipalities for the fact it took 17 months to get a single project approved under the program.

“You’d have to ask different mayors why it took so long,” the prime minister said in French.

Trudeau said London was the fastest to respond to the call for ambitious plans that eliminate municipal barriers to getting homes built more quickly. That includes, for example, zoning rules that limit the kind of homes that can be built in specific areas.

London’s proposal, which Trudeau called “absolutely visionary,” allows for building high-density housing developments without the need for rezoning. It would allow four units to be built on a single property even in low-density neighbourhoods.

London will receive $74 million toward the housing projects.

Federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser said the London announcement “is going to be replicated in the weeks and months ahead” and urged municipalities to allow housing near transit and universities.

“If you want the federal government to show up with financial investments that will directly support your ability to build more homes, give us a reason,” Fraser said at the announcement.

“A new standard has been set and we have new expectations.”

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Wednesday that Canada will be short about 3.5 million homes by the end of the decade, compared with what’s needed to restore affordability. Trudeau would not commit on Wednesday to a plan to meet that target.

The housing crisis and other affordability issues are expected to be in the spotlight on Parliament Hill this fall, with the Opposition Conservatives blaming the Liberals for the problem and working to convince Canadians they would do a better job if they win the next election.

The Opposition is not the only source of pressure.

Various media reports have quoted backbench Liberal MPs as saying the party isn’t communicating its accomplishments well and that Trudeau isn’t listening to the concerns of MPs who are not in cabinet.

Quebec MP Brenda Shanahan, the Liberal caucus chair, said Tuesday that her fellow MPs are having “very frank” conversations.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said those talks are crucial.

“We are going to have conversations that are sometimes not always easy, sometimes difficult, but necessary because we are a government that has been in power for eight years now, a government that has faced several crises and each time, we were able to overcome them.”

Earlier Wednesday, Fraser said there are unprecedented measures coming to tackle the housing crisis, working with the private and non-profit sectors.

“We’re going to need to advance measures that are going to help change the financial equation for builders who are dealing with a lot of projects that are actually approved but have been put on pause because of a higher-interest rate environment,” Fraser said.

He also said the federal government will “work to change” how long it takes cities to issue zoning permits and find ways to attract immigrants with construction skills to Canada.

Fraser added the government will need to be “investing in innovation, like building homes in factories so we can actually be more productive with the assets that we have, with the investments that we make.”

The Liberals are also trying to signal they are prudent fiscal managers. 

An ongoing spending review calls for a $15-billion cut over five years, and a drop of $4 billion each following year. Treasury Board President Anita Anand insisted that won’t affect priorities such as housing, affordability and support to vulnerable Canadians. 

“We’re going to continue to be focused on those priorities while making sure that our own fiscal house is in order. And that’s what all Canadians are doing right now,” she said.

Charles Sousa, a Toronto-area MP and Ontario’s former finance minister, said the party needs to balance building more in the suburbs with managing federal spending. 

“We have to do more collaboratively with the provinces and municipalities, and we have to find ways to be constructive,” he said.

“We redistribute wealth where necessary, but we have to promote growth; we have to promote economic vitality.”

MPs are meeting in regional groups on Wednesday to touch base on issues their constituents have raised, as well as unflattering polling numbers in surveys the Liberals commissioned this summer.

Yet Vancouver-area MP Ken Hardie claimed his constituents are generally feeling positive. 

“We were talking about this last night. Whatever the polls are saying, we’re not hearing it at the doors,” he said.

“We were expecting to run into some heavy weather; some people are upset. Most people aren’t even paying attention.”

Opposition parties say the Liberals are reacting to a crisis they let fester.

The Conservatives pointed to a comment from Liberal MP Arielle Kayabaga, who told media this week: “I haven’t been able to purchase a home.” Kayabaga, who was elected in 2021, receives an annual salary of nearly $195,000 as a member of Parliament.

“It appears that members of the Liberal caucus are just now starting to notice what their constituents have been facing for the past eight years,” the Conservatives wrote in a statement.

The NDP blamed the Liberals and Tories for decades of gutting investments in public housing.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called on Trudeau to waive federal taxes on projects to build affordable housing, while boosting funding to non-profit and co-op housing providers, and help them buy older properties that are often snapped up by developers. 

The caucus meeting is taking place in a convention centre with locked doors and heavy security.

On Tuesday, a dozen protesters gathered outside the venue holding flags with expletives seen during the “Freedom Convoy” protests in 2022. Some in that group were seen that evening lighting off fireworks in the vicinity of hotels where Liberal MPs were staying.

3) Housing Gap Steady As Lower Incomes Expected To Offset Construction Slowdown: CMHC

Courtesy of Barrie360.com and Canadian PressPublished: Sep 13th, 2023

By Ian Bickis in Toronto

Canada will be short about 3.5 million homes by the end of the decade compared with what’s needed to restore affordability, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Wednesday.

The estimate is similar to the estimate last year, but that’s because the federal housing agency now expects lower economic growth will push down demand, offsetting the slowdown in home construction seen in the past year.

“We were too optimistic about Ontario’s growth coming out of the pandemic,” CMHC deputy chief economist Aled ab Iorwerth said.

The lower growth, and lower incomes that go with that, means the agency expects more people especially in Ontario to stay living with parents or roommates, along with other trends that keep people from striking out to look for a home of their own.

“You know, we hear of divorced couples staying together because they can’t afford to live in separate housing,” ab Iorwerth said.

The lower growth projection for the province helped push down Ontario’s shortfall by about 370,000 units, but it still has by far the biggest gap at 1.48 million homes.

Other provinces, however, saw their expected affordability gap increase on stronger economic and demographic trends.

Quebec needs an estimated 860,000 units, up 240,000 from last year, while B.C. needs 610,000 for a 50,000 increase. Alberta needs 130,000 compared with the 20,000 projected last year.

The widening gap in some provinces come as the overall pace of construction has slowed because of a combination of labour constraints, rising costs for supplies and higher interest rates that are making it harder to finance projects, ab Iorwerth said.

The combined pressures means CMHC now expects about 390,000 fewer housing units to be built by the end of the decade from what it projected last year.

Overall, the combination of lower growth, lower construction and other trends left the Canadian shortfall at an estimated 3.45 million, compared with 3.52 million in its outlook in June 2022.

The forecast is also based on a significant drop in immigration after 2025, the year the federal government is targeting 500,000 newcomers. If immigration patterns continue at the current pace though, the housing shortfall jumps to four million units by 2030. 

Conversely, in an even lower economic growth scenario, the gap could shrink to 3.1 million units. 

CMHC’s affordability target is based on how the market was in 2004. It works out to housing taking up about 30 per cent of after-tax income in most provinces, but the target ratio is 37 per cent in Ontario and 44 per cent for British Columbia.

Ab Iorwerth said it will be a challenge to restore affordability given the complexity of the challenge, but that it’s encouraging governments are ramping up their response.

“What’s heartening is that we’re seeing policy action now by all levels of government, the government of Ontario has taken action, the federal government is stepping forward,” he said. 

“What we’re hoping for in the future is that all of these policy actions start to bear fruit, and we see the rates of construction increasing.”

Patricia Dent

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