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UDI on National Housing Strategy

September 29, 2016

The Federal Government is currently seeking feedback on a new National Housing Strategy to address housing affordability throughout Canada.

The UDI is a non-partisan national association of the development industry and has long been wrestling with how to deliver affordable housing to British Columbians.

While UDI engages on matters related to the entire housing continuum, our primary focus has been on promoting middle income housing solutions. We advocate for new rental and affordable home ownership opportunities for emergency workers and teachers, service sector providers, immigrants, and various other professionals – who have been largely forgotten in the ‘housing affordability’ discourse.

We believe that if government truly wants to see a certain type of affordable market housing in their community, they need to make it easier for developers to build housing. Solving the problem of affordability comes down to the supply of housing units and the supply of residential development, particularly in transit-oriented locations.

Demand side measures to tamper high housing prices, such as the recently approved foreign buyer’s tax, a vacant homes tax, and the regulation of Airbnb, have been at the forefront of recent policy discussions and measures. UDI believes that supply side solutions must be prioritized now. An abundance of new housing supply would improve housing affordability and also generate jobs – whereas demand side measures hinders job creation. There are over 50,000 jobs in Metro Vancouver related to new housing construction – or about three jobs for every new housing unit built.

As everyone knows, single-family housing is an almost impossible housing choice for most Metro Vancouver residents. The number of single family homes on our existing and finite land base cannot increase. Thus, alternatives to detached homes, particularly for families, are needed.  By building new multi-family homes we create more affordable housing options than what single-family homes provide. Growth also adds a mix of people, shops, restaurants, and amenities.  The population increase allows for investments in new schools, hospitals, and transit.

Senior levels of government should expand their roles to ensure that there is an adequate supply of housing in cities throughout Canada. This could be done by providing a framework to ensure that multi-billion dollar investments in transit are linked directly to new housing supply nearby new rapid transit investments. Federal and provincial governments must increase transit funding, but also secure commitments to increased housing supply prior to funding agreements for future transit lines.

UDI looks forward to working with the Federal Government and other stakeholders in order to positively shape the outcome of Canada’s new National Housing Strategy.

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