Affordable Housing

 

The Town of Collingwood believes that action can and should occur at all levels of government to address the housing crisis. Collingwood is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Canada and the lack of affordable housing affects us all. We are in a crisis and we need to take action now.

 

What is Affordable Housing?

Generally, housing is considered affordable if it costs less than 30% of a household's before-tax income.
The Town of Collingwood uses the following specific definitions of affordable housing:

Affordable Ownership Housing
Housing for which the purchase price results in annual accommodation costs which do not exceed 30 percent of gross annual household income for moderate income households.

Affordable Rental Housing
A unit for which the rent does not exceed 30 percent of gross annual household income for moderate income households.

The Town of Collingwood aims to meet the housing needs of moderate income households (i.e. 40th to 60th renter or owner income deciles).

 

Why Affordable Housing Matters

When a town doesn't have enough affordable housing, the entire prosperity of a community suffers. Housing insecurity is not evenly distributed across the population – it disproportionately affects diverse and marginalized populations, older people, and those living on low incomes.  As rents continue to rise, more and more individuals and families are finding it hard to make ends meet. Often, this means that there isn’t enough money left at the end of the day for other necessities like food and medicine. It also means there is no money left over to shop for local goods or participate in activities. When our neighbours can no longer afford to live here, they often make the difficult choice to move out of town, leaving local businesses struggling to recruit or retain staff. 

When a town has an adequate supply of affordable housing, the community thrives. Some of the positive impacts attributed to affordable housing include:  

  • Improved community wellbeing and vibrancy
  • Reduced incidences of homelessness
  • Improved access to education
  • Improved health, reducing strain on health and social services
  • Increased diversity and equality
  • Reduced crime rates and food insecurity
  • Improved economic sustainability

 

Affordable Housing Task Force

The Town of Collingwood established the Affordable Housing Task Force in 2021 to help Council identify options to initiate real change in the local housing crisis. In November 2021, the Task Force along with N. Barry Lyon Consultants Ltd. conducted a housing needs assessment and presented Council with 53 recommendations to improve the affordable housing crisis. The Task Force continues to provide Council and staff with affordable housing leadership and advocacy.
 

The Housing Continuum

The housing continuum represents the spectrum of housing types available from very low to above moderate-income households. The Town of Collingwood's focus is on Affordable Rental Housing, Affordable Home Ownership, Market Rental Housing and Market Home Ownership.

A visual illustration of the housing continuum from homelessness to market home ownership.
 

The Town's Role in the Housing Sector

Addressing the housing crisis and making sure there is enough affordable rental and ownership housing requires action and partnership across the housing sector, including all levels of government, non-profit organizations and private industry.

The Town's current role is to support affordable housing development in the following ways:

Supporting the Affordable Housing Task Force and grass roots efforts within the community 

  • Identifying community champions and partners to increase the supply of affordable housing 
  • Updating land use policies and regulations to encourage affordable housing and remove actual or perceived barriers 
  • Steering affordable housing development through regulations, land use planning and policies and connecting developers and landowners to funding resources 
  • Streamlining development processes 
  • Developing streamlined accessory dwelling unit programs for homeowners to contribute to the affordable housing solution 
  • Promoting purpose built rental buildings to increase the supply of affordable rental units, based on real data to determine mix of housing most appropriate to meet the community’s needs 

This role may evolve through the Affordable Housing Master Plan project, where actions and priorities will be identified and costed.  See below for more information on the Affordable Housing Master Plan.

 

Social Housing

The term "affordable housing" is often used interchangeably with "social housing", but they are two different things. Social housing is coordinated by the County of Simcoe and it is a category that includes public housing, cooperatives, and non-profit providers that receive government funding to assist with rent subsidies and operating and capital costs. The County is responsible for planning, funding and managing social housing programs and homelessness services. 
 

Short Term Accommodations

Affordable housing is sometimes confused with short term accommmodations (STAs). It is currently prohibited under subsection 4.22.2 of the Town’s Zoning By-law No. 2010-040 to use a dwelling unit, or any part thereof, as a STA for any period of 30 days or less, except for bed and breakfast establishments (i.e., where the property owner is also residing in the dwelling where the rental is being offered).The Town of Collingwood is in the process of reviewing its approach to addressing STAs within the municipality. 

 

Affordable Housing Projects in Progress

Rapid Accessory Dwelling Unit Program - In September 2022, Council approved the basis for a Rapid Accesory Dwelling Unit (ADU) program. This program seeks to provide incentives and to simplify and streamline processes for homeowners to create ADU's on their property to increase the number of available rental units. Staff are reviewing current processes and best practices and an update will be shared when more information is available.

Affordable Housing Master Plan - Work on an Affordable Housing Master Plan is scheduled to begin in early 2023. The Affordable Housing Master Plan will provide fully costed strategic direction, prioritized strategic actions, an implementation plan, tools and metrics to help the Town of Collingwood create housing that meets the community's needs. We want to learn from citizens and community partners during this process, so watch out for upcoming engagement opportunities!

 

Resources

Town of Collingwood Affordable Housing Task Force Report

Town of Collingwood Needs Assessment

County of Simcoe Housing our Future Report

South Georgian Bay Regional Housing Task Force Report

 

 

How to Get Involved

We all have a role to play in fixing the affordable housing crisis. Whether you are a member of the development community, a non-profit, a business owner, homeowner or an individual who wants to help, we want to hear from you.  Contact Jenn Rae, Housing Development Coordinator at jrae@collingwood.ca or 705-445-1030 ext. 3714 for more resources or to learn more.