A ‘Complete’ National Housing Strategy is Key to Addressing Housing Affordability - Home Builders
The 2017 Federal Budget contains important housing-related allocations, principally for affordable/social housing, and the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) applauds the innovative approaches being sought to help those in core housing need. Although the key challenge of affordability for market-rate housing, especially for first-time home buyers, remains to be addressed in a National Housing Strategy, measures to dramatically augment data collection and analysis will serve to support such policy measures in the future and are another element CHBA welcomes in the budget.
“Given the challenges facing first-time home buyers today, Canada needs to work to create a comprehensive regime to address the real issues driving up house prices, and to support well-qualified first-time homebuyers, so that young families are not locked out of homeownership and hence the middle class,” says CHBA CEO Kevin Lee. “Up till now, there has been a lack of comprehensive data in Canada on key aspects of the housing market—the new Housing Research and Housing Statistics Framework plans announced in the Budget to secure improved data and analysis will support sound policy-making to address today’s affordability challenges,” he concluded.
In addition to allocating funding to help those in housing need, the Budget wisely anticipates further strategic details in the National Housing Strategy, expected later this year.
CHBA will continue to make recommendations as development of the full National Housing Strategy continues, highlighting the need to address the root problems impacting market-rate housing affordability. This includes the need to address housing supply issues, and curbing the excessive regulation, red-tape and NIMBYism that keep family-oriented housing from being developed in sufficient numbers, in a timely manner and at prices people can afford.
In terms of helping the maximum number of those in core housing need, CHBA has worked with the National Housing Collaborative to strongly recommend a portable housing benefit flowing to people, rather than housing units, as a key mechanism that should be in the National Housing Strategy when it is completed. Such a benefit will provide the most flexibility and choice for those who need support, reduce demand for limited social housing stock, and support increased mobility. It will allow recipients to choose the most appropriate market-rate housing options.
“Innovative solutions are needed to make public dollars go the furthest, for the most people, in the most effective ways,” said Mr. Lee.
While the Minister of Finance has indicated that the government continues to watch housing markets and household indebtedness, CHBA was pleased to note that there were no changes to mortgage rules or the housing finance system announced in the Budget.
CHBA, along with other real estate industry participants, recently told the Finance Committee that the government should wait and evaluate the market impacts of recent changes before considering any further actions.
“CHBA is pleased that the government has recognized that there is a lot of concern about the health of markets outside of Toronto and Vancouver, and that the real issues at play in hot markets need to be addressed to improve affordability. National residential investment numbers continue to mask the disparities in the health of housing markets across the country, many of which are struggling,” observed Lee.
To that end, CHBA is pleased to see commitment to a “renewed Federal-Provincial-Territorial Partnership in Housing” in the Budget.
“Over the past while, we have urged the federal government to pursue the development of coordinated supply efforts for cities like Toronto and Vancouver, and avoid measures that will have negative impacts in other regions,” says Mr. Lee. “Industry needs all three levels of government working together, so members are very pleased to see this commitment. Real economic and demographic changes underlie growing demand for family-oriented housing, and supply issues can only be addressed through coordination and cooperation among all three levels of government.”