Mississauga Invites Residents to Weigh in on Affordable Housing Crisis

The days of the average middle-income family being able to comfortably afford a detached home—the kind of three or four-bedroom house with a private, fenced-in yard that many people grew up in—are over.

The $1 million detached home is, for now, a new normal (although a decent influx in spring market inventory might have tempered prices) and more and more people are being priced out of the GTA.

While it might not be possible to return to an era of $300,000 2000+ square foot homes, it is crucially important that private enterprise and all levels of government work together to make at least a modest portion of housing affordable for lower and middle-income residents.

And although no hard and fast solutions have been implemented, Mississauga is working to address the affordability crisis with its Making Room for the Middle draft strategy and it's asking residents to take part in the discussion.

The draft strategy includes 40 actions to support housing affordability and is focused on middle-income households who do not qualify for subsidized housing but cannot afford market priced homes.

While housing prices have been discussed, it seems, to death, the conversation has never been more pertinent—especially when looking at some alarming facts:

  • A home is considered affordable when its inhabitants spend 30 per cent or less of their earnings on housing costs

  • 1 in 3 households are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing and research suggests this number will rise

  • Middle income households typically net between $50,000 and $100,000 a year

  • Middle income earners include nurses, teachers and social workers

  • People who want to purchase homes can typically afford to pay between $270,000 and $400,000, meaning their only options are condos and a limited selection of townhouses

  • Housing prices are adversely affected by supply and demand imbalances (there’s much more demand than there is supply)

  • The average rental unit costs $1,200 a month

  • Rental inventory is 1.6 per cent (which is troublingly low)

Although the city cannot do too much to cool or control the still red-hot housing market, it can work to protect existing rental stock (especially in light of the incoming Hurontario LRT project and all the development it's likely to spur in the typically more affordable Dundas and Hurontario area) and incentivize developers to include affordable units in their projects.

But while the city has been discussing the issue in-depth at numerous council meetings, it's beginning to involve residents in the conversation.

To raise awareness about the strategy, receive feedback and build partnerships to implement the actions, the city is hosting: MakingRoom for the Middle - A Discussion on Housing Affordability in Mississauga.

Speakers include Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Paul Kershaw (Generation Squeeze), Andrew Whittemore, director, city planning strategies with the City of Mississauga and CBC Radio moderator Mary Wiens.

The discussion will take place on Thursday, May 25 at 6:00 p.m. at the Living Arts Centre in the second floor staging room.

This is a free event but space is limited, so visit mississaugahousingforum.ca to register.

According to the city, Generation Squeeze founder Kershaw will use lessons from Vancouver and other Canadian cities to show how middle-income households are being squeezed by rising house prices relative to earnings and share his vision for rethinking housing policy in Canada.

An open house from 6 to 7 p.m. will allow residents and stakeholders to learn and ask questions about the draft strategy.

Attendees can also speak to City of Mississauga staff and share their housing experiences.

From 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. there will be presentations and a discussion period moderated by CBC Radio's Mary Wiens.

The event is being hosted by the City of Mississauga with support from the Canadian Urban Institute and the Urban Land Institute.

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