New strategy opens door to affordable housing

As the cost of housing puts Markham out of reach for many, City Council has taken steps to provide affordable housing.

The Housing Choices: Markham’s Affordable and Rental Housing Strategy received council’s stamp of approval on June 14 – just a day after the Ontario Real Estate Association released a survey that reveals a significant portion of prospective homebuyers believes prospects for home ownership in the province are dim without more concrete government action.

“The City of Markham’s council-approved Affordable and Rental Housing Strategy will put in place targeted measures to address affordability challenges, increase supply, and retain and attract families to our growing and vibrant city,” Mayor Frank Scarpitti says.

The strategy is the result of a multi-phase study that found one in three households have housing affordability issues and nearly one in five households are spending 50 per cent or more of their income on housing. The city needs housing that will meet the needs of low- and moderate-income households to support growing families, seniors aging in place and recent graduates looking for their first home, the city reports.

The average price of a resale home in Markham has doubled over the last 10 years and average market rent is increasing faster than inflation, it notes. According to current Markham MLS stats the average price of a house here is $1.2 million.

Beginning in the next 12 months, Markham will prioritize five of 35 actions included in the strategy. It will develop an inclusionary zoning by-law for major transit station areas, review permission for additional residential unit, use public lands for affordable housing, develop incentive package for affordable/supportive housing, and facilitate partnerships for affordable housing.

Study contributors and stakeholders will help create more affordable and rental housing in Markham.

“We look forward to a Made-in-Markham solution to addressing our housing needs,” says Dave Wilkes, President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association.

“Addressing housing affordability requires full public and private sector co-operation,” says land developer The Remington Group Inc. “Remington has enjoyed an extensive relationship with the City of Markham and we look forward to continuing that collaboration to help address issues like housing affordability.”

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