Affordable Housing Solutions: Policy Tools
Municipal Policy can be used effectively to support the development of affordable housing. A supportive policy environment is important for increasing the supply of affordable housing and sends a signal to developers that affordable housing is welcomed within a community. Policy changes don’t cost money and are effective in reducing costs and waiting times. The following policy tools are a sample of initiatives to support affordable housing.
- Housing Strategy – If you are a municipality, developing a housing strategy is an excellent way to foster an environment where affordable housing can be built. A strategy has many elements and is effective in increasing interest by builders and developers as well as setting housing targets in the short to long-term.
- Pre-designated Sites for Care Homes – An increasingly important affordable housing component is to increase the availability of land for private and public care homes in local neighbourhoods. This is a proactive step to inform all stakeholders about opportunities for neighbourhood based housing.
- Tax Title Properties – Many municipalities acquire land and properties from time to time through property tax enforcement. Offering these properties for new affordable housing is an effective way to ensure the supply of land and create a supportive policy environment for affordable housing.
- Legalize Secondary Suites – All municipalities contain secondary suites, but not all officially recognize and support this important form of affordable housing. NAHC will help dispel the myths surrounding these types of dwellings.
- Remove Zoning Impediments – Many zoning bylaws are not set up to encourage the latest forms of affordable housing or mixed market housing. NAHC can help streamline your regulations without affecting neighbourhood character or property values.
- Bonusing – Municipalities offer incentives such as bonuses within their zoning bylaws to encourage specific forms of development.
- De-concentration of Affordable Housing – A characteristic of affordable housing development is that it migrates towards low-cost areas of your community, creating concentration. NAHC has strategies to help de-concentrate affordable housing.
- Garden and Garage Suites – Another form of housing which can be an affordable alternative, but seldomly used in many municipalities due to mainly to cost and NIMBY issues.
- Priority Review Process – A proven process to speed up the permitting process specifically for affordable housing.
- Inclusionary Zoning – Used in many cities, this is a regulatory tool that can be used when other methods to encourage affordable housing are not effective.
- Ownership and Operation of Housing – Normally not recommended for most cities, but many cities find they have limited choices and must provide local housing units to maintain quality of life for many.