Affordability for Whom?

Who do we have in mind when we design policies to increase affordability?

  1. People with special needs, such as risk of homelessness, disabilities and very low incomes. These households often require subsidized housing and special support services.
  2. Existing residents with excessive cost burdens. Consumer expenditure surveys indicate that most and lower- moderate-income households spend more than is considered affordable on housing and transportation. These households often benefit from policies that control rents and preserve cheaper, older housing stock, although this may prevent opportunities to increase moderate-priced housing supply.
  3. Lower- and moderate-income households that would like to rent or buy housing in our community but cannot unless moderate-priced housing supply increases. These households benefit from policies that allow more townhouses and apartments to be built in walkable urban neighborhoods where transport costs are low. Even if the new housing units are too expensive for lower-income households, they contribute to affordability through filtering (new middle-priced housing frees up some lower-priced units).

The first perspective requires targetted strategies that help a few thousand people; those who qualify for special subsidized housing. The second and third perspectives affect a far larger number of people, tens of thousands of people who could benefit from more lower- and moderate-priced housing located in walkable urban nighborhoods. Because more citizens can benefit, these broader perspectives can build more support for this year’s municipal election “Vote For Affordability campaign.

For these reasons, Cities for Everyone supports a broad housing affordability agenda that increases all types of housing types, not just subsidized housing for people with special needs.

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