Creating Affordable Housing by Harnessing the Power of Private Development
Inclusionary housing programs are municipal programs that rely upon the development regulations and approval process to have private developers provide some portion of the housing within their new market projects as affordable housing.
This website has been created to assist community members, activists, government planners, policy makes and housing developers to gain a better appreciation of Inclusionary Housing as a policy and program tool to increase the supply of affordable housing in our neighbourhoods and communities.
This guide identifies the main aspects of inclusionary housing that should be addressed in order to implement an effective program, and also the main principles and key practices that should be followed when addressing those aspects.
It does not attempt to draft a model bylaw nor to set out specific regulations. In many cases, those regulations will depend upon the particular needs, conditions and priorities of each municipality. Also, in some cases (and as also noted here), they still will require further study and research.
The guide draws to a large extent upon the inclusionary housing practices used widely across the US. These practices in the main follow a common model and use a similar set of rules and procedures. This model is generally called inclusionary zoning, and might be described as American-style inclusionary housing. In any case, this particular model has not been used in Canada.
It is not expected that the American model will be fully adopted in this country. Different priorities, regulations and mechanisms are likely to emerge here. Also, some of the aspects of the US programs cannot be readily imported. Nevertheless, considering that these practices have been tried and tested for well over 30 years and in many different communities, this experience offers an invaluable starting point for developing corresponding programs in this country.
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This report reviews the affordable housing mandates that have been used by uppertier jurisdictions in the US and Canada. The mandates include those in the four states of New Jersey, California, Massachusetts and Connecticut; the two provinces of British Columbia and Ontario; and the two metropolitan areas of Portland, Oregon and Minneapolis/St Paul, Minnesota (also called the Twin Cities).
These mandates in various but similar ways harness the planning regulations and associated development approval process to assist in the provision of affordable housing.
These mandates go well beyond expecting municipalities to use what might be called good planning practices — like providing sufficient development land, zoning for higher densities and cutting municipal red tape.
Under these mandates, municipalities are obliged to support the provision of affordable housing in an affirmative way. That means that the municipalities are required to assist in some way that will lower the cost of the housing, and make it affordable specifically to lower-income households.
These mandates set quantified targets for the municipalities as a way of defining their obligations or measuring their performance. In some cases, these targets are set through a specific allocation assigned to each municipality, and in others, through a standard minimum quota applied to all.
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On October 28, 2010, Hon. Dwight Duncan stood in the legislature and said: “We’re very supportive of Inclusionary Housing……We want to make sure we get it right” Mr. Duncan’s remarks were in response to a question from Cheri Di Novo, MPP for Parkdale High Park about why the government majority on a legislative committee killed her private members bill (Bill 58) on Inclusionary Housing. Mr Duncan referred to the bill as “helpful input” and a step towards getting it right on Inclusionary Housing.