A housing crisis is looming in the Niagara Region according to a research brief called “Looking Ahead and Looking Up: Affordable Housing in Niagara”, with its author calling the issue a “wicked problem.”
Assistant Professor of Political Science Joanne Heritz, who wrote the piece says that: “I’m telling the community that we don’t have enough housing, especially affordable housing, our demand is going to go up, and we need to build more apartment-type housing.”
The paper goes on to say that Niagara will need more than 67,000 homes by 2041 to meet the needs of its growing population. As far as affordable housing ( a one-bedroom apartment from Niagara Regional Housing) there currently can be wait times of a decade or more, anywhere from nine years in Lincoln to 17 years in Niagara Falls.
The overall supply of rental units in Niagara and all across the province doesn’t keep up with demand, says the brief.
- less than seven per cent of new housing across Ontario in the past 20 years has been designated as rental
- rental prices have increased 10 to 15 per cent since 2019; meanwhile, incomes increased just two per cent per year between 2008 and 2017
- 56 per cent of renters cannot afford an average two-bedroom apartment
The situation in Niagara:
- In 2019, St. Catharines was the 10th most expensive rental market in Canada with an average price of $910 for a one-bedroom rental
- Niagara is expected to experience a 30-per-cent population increase by 2041: to 609,990 residents from its current size of 450,320
“Low supply of rental stock, steep increases in housing prices, forecasted population growth, migration of population from the GTA to Niagara, preferences for short-term vacation rentals, renovictions, the decades-long waitlist for social housing, the gig economy and the unmet needs of vulnerable groups, all contribute to the affordable housing crisis in Niagara,” says the brief.
Apartments are in highest demand in Niagara, requiring an additional 19,325 units by 2041, or 870 units annually.
Changes are Happening But Not Enough
The brief acknowledges new build strategies are happening to meet demand, but are not enough. For example, Niagara Regional Housing recently opened an affordable housing building for seniors in Welland, a high-rise on Carleton Street in St. Catharines and an upcoming 73-unit project on Hawkins Street in Niagara Falls.
Bottom Line: Supply does not line up with demand and the path forward is still insufficient to deal with proper housing solutions for everyone. The author says she hopes to “start the conversation” with her reporting.
To view the entire report please visit the link HERE
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