Promoting Affordable Housing Act
The Promoting Affordable Housing Act, 2016, amends the Planning Act, the Development Charges Act, 1997, the Housing Services Act, 2011 and the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006.
Part of Ontario's updated Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy, the Promoting Affordable Housing Act will help increase the supply of affordable housing and modernize the social housing system.
The following legislative measures support the updated strategy:
When proclaimed, the Planning Act will give municipalities the option of requiring affordable housing units as part of residential developments. Inclusionary zoning would help to serve more people in need of housing, increase the supply of affordable units, and meet local needs and targets.
Appeals of inclusionary zoning official plan policies and zoning by-laws to the Ontario Municipal Board will not be permitted, except by the minister. However, appeals would still be permitted for typical zoning matters, such as building height and density, even when used as incentives for inclusionary zoning. Municipalities would not be able to accept cash in lieu of affordable units, but could allow for affordable units to be located on another site, subject to criteria set out in proposed regulation.
Further details for inclusionary zoning will be set out in proposed regulation and may address items such as:
- A threshold size for residential development projects that would trigger when to apply inclusionary zoning
- Specifying that inclusionary zoning units would be maintained as affordable for a certain number of years
- Rules that would set out the percentage of total units in a residential development project required to be affordable under inclusionary zoning
Proposed regulations are expected to be posted for public consultation in early 2017.
When proclaimed, the Development Charges Act, 1997 will exempt secondary suites in new homes from development charges. Secondary suites -- like basement or above-garage apartments -- are a potential source of affordable rental housing and allow homeowners to earn extra income from their property. The changes would help to increase the supply and range of affordable housing options in Ontario communities. Further details of the exemption would be set out in proposed regulation.
Changes to the Housing Services Act 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. Counting local homeless populations will provide valuable information about the diverse realities of Ontarians who experience homelessness, and inform smart approaches and program design.
Giving local service managers more choice and social housing alternatives will help more individuals and families seeking housing assistance, and make it easier for Ontarians to access a range of housing options. The 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.
Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act would help to prevent unnecessary evictions from social housing. 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. These changes would also encourage service managers and housing providers to create more vibrant, mixed-income communities, comprised of a mix of rent-geared-to-income and market rent tenants.
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 legislative amendments, see the Promoting Affordable Housing Act, 2016.