Saturday, March 2, 2024

Affordable Housing Needs to be More Clearly Defined

Editor,

As it was written and with your editorial note, I was perplexed about giving thumbs up or down on the issue that Mr Chambers brought up. I think you both may be on the wrong track. You and he are debating on the average and median housing price in our area. In a previous editorial (about gender and sexual diversity, which I agree with btw) you admit that math and numbers are not your strength. “When I see numbers, my eyes glaze over.” I quite agree that we are in quite a pickle on this issue. But I think we should focus on what affordable housing means. We need a definition or a guide to help this issue.

Affordable housing is very relative term. It varies for every person and situation. Retirees on fixed incomes and people on or near the poverty line define affordability quite differently from young single- or even dual-income families and yet again from people with high incomes. We need to narrow the scope of the problem.

In my opinion, people who have their homes don’t need any help. (Ya, I know that property taxes and energy costs are a concern). In my opinion, it is people who have no home and/or are renting, trying to save up for their first home who we should be focused on.

Municipalities should not be in the business of building low cost housing. But they could look into their policies and zoning bylaws to make them more friendly to developers to build multi story lower cost apartments and they could go after land owners in the city who let their properties become vacant or derelict. We have plenty of these situations in our town. That would free up land for lower cost housing.

Btw, blaming affordable housing (whatever that means) on high taxes is a cheap shot. We must always remember that every tax we pay was debated, analyzed and approved by people that WE ELECTED. They made their decisions based upon facts presented to them. No politician wants to raise taxes! So, in the end we have ourselves to blame for either electing the wrong people or by causing the issues that our politicians are responding to through taxation. There is no free lunch, if people want solutions to problems then the solutions cost money or in this case, require changes in municipal planning policy.

Builders will build lower cost housing if they are properly incen(tiviz)ed to do so.

Dave MacDougall, Meaford

Editor’s Note: In Canada, affordable housing is typically defined as housing, rental or owned, that costs less than 30 percent of a household’s gross monthly income.

 

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