What can Port Hope do about affordable housing?

We have a housing crisis in Port Hope.

Our vacancy rate is around 0.3% (the “recommended” rate is around 3%), and the average housing cost is out of reach of minimum wage and other low income earners.

Without affordable housing options, we cannot:

  • Keep or attract young people and families
  • Staff many of our businesses, including the upcoming business park development
  • Help our seniors and fixed income earners stay in our community
  • Grow our property tax base

Adding more affordable housing options is the cornerstone to economic development in Port Hope. We cannot hope to grow if people cannot afford to live here.

There are a wide range of solutions we can look at, some easier than others. Some solutions will require investment of time, resources, and money, but we’re at the point where we can’t foist this off on the county or province. If we want to solve the housing crisis in Port Hope, we must take the lead on it.

Some of the ideas I have for tackling the housing crisis are:

  • Zoning/By-laws – allow for more accessory units (basement apartments, in-law suites, laneway houses, carriage houses, etc.). This is the quickest way we can add density without needing massive development, and will both add units and help current residents stay in their properties. This should be considered in both the urban and rural wards.
  • Development requirements – work with developers to mandate a proportion of new development as affordable, with increasing incentives the higher that proportion is (e.g., breaks on development charges, property tax rebates, etc.). Also mandate the inclusion of accessory units in a proportion of new development, making new properties more desirable for buyers looking for income-generating potential.
  • Promote the Community Improvement Plan – there is money available to property owners in the downtown area to convert/renovate upper floor units. More money is available if those units are intended to be affordable.
  • Repurpose old buildings – for unused buildings that have little or no historical merit (e.g., St. Mary’s Catholic School), the municipality should be approaching the owner to acquire or encourage redevelopment as affordable housing.
  • Support our community partners – organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Green Wood Coalition have incredible amounts of experience and the ability to stretch our dollars further. We should be doing everything we can to provide land, building incentives, and other resources to help support their efforts.

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