Proposed Amendments to Promote Affordable Housing
Ontario has introduced legislative amendments to the Planning Act, the Development Charges Act, the Housing Services Act and the Residential Tenancies Act that would, if passed, help ensure that the people of Ontario have better access to affordable and adequate housing.
Ontario's updated Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy was announced in March 2016 and was informed by feedback from key stakeholders including clients, developers, municipalities and advocates. It also reflects recommendations made by the Expert Panel on Homelessness' 2015 report and the report by the Mayor's Task Force on the Toronto Community Housing Corporation.
The following proposed items in the Promoting Affordable Housing Act, 2016, support the updated strategy.
The proposed changes to the Planning Act for inclusionary zoning would, if passed, enable municipalities to require the inclusion of affordable housing units in new development projects. For example, if a municipality chose to use this tool, new housing proposals would need to include a certain number of affordable units in order to be approved.
Appeals of inclusionary zoning official plan policies and zoning by-laws to the Ontario Municipal Board would not be permitted, except by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Under the proposed changes, municipalities could not accept cash-in-lieu of affordable units, and developers could not provide affordable units on another site.
If passed, legislation for inclusionary zoning would help to serve more people in need of housing, increase the supply of affordable units, and meet local needs and targets.
In the coming weeks, the province will consult with municipalities, developers and other interested parties to help develop a framework for inclusionary zoning in Ontario. For more information, see the Consultation Discussion Guide.
The province is proposing changes to the Development Charges Act to exempt secondary suites in new homes from development charges. Secondary suites are a potential source of affordable rental housing and allow homeowners to earn some extra income from their property. The proposed changes would help to increase the supply and range of affordable housing options in Ontario communities.
Through proposed changes to the Housing Services Act, the province would provide local Service Managers with more flexibility in administering and delivering social housing, and would require Service Managers to conduct local enumeration to count people who are homeless in their communities.
More flexibility and housing alternatives at the local level would help more individuals and families seeking housing assistance, and make it easier for Ontarians to access a range of housing options. The proposed changes could also help to reduce wait lists, as people would be able to find and apply for the housing and supports they need more quickly and easily.
Counting local homeless populations would provide valuable information about the diverse realities of Ontarians who experience homelessness, and inform smart approaches and program design.
Ontario is also proposing changes to the Residential Tenancies Act that would help to prevent unnecessary evictions from social housing. The proposed changes will encourage Service Managers and housing providers to create more vibrant, mixed-income communities, comprised of a healthy mix of rent-geared-to-income and market rent tenants. For example, tenants could not be evicted when they cease to be eligible for rent-geared-to-income assistance after paying market rent for 12 months or more.
The province's proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act would also provide for local enforcement of rental property maintenance standards for tenants and landlords in all municipalities.
For the full list of proposed legislative amendments, see the Bill 204, Promoting Affordable Housing Act, 2016.