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Hamilton Council received some fresh ideas on tackling housing affordability


Some of the basic assumptions around housing, especially affordable housing were challenged in a Hamilton Council workshop. The workshop featuring a presentation by the Canadian Housing Evidence Collaborative was organized by General Manager of Healthy and Safe Communities Angela Burden and her staff, as part of a list of priories for the coming year set by council.

Highlights of the presentation included:

  • Student housing is financially attractive to private builders, It provides a return on investment. Build more purpose-built student housing to open up the current moderately priced private housing stock that students now occupy.
  • In some cases, it makes more sense to subsidize rent for low-income individuals that to build new public housing units.
  • Cities can do a better job of managing the cash flows on the affordable housing stock once the mortgages on buildings are retired.
  • The city needs to make more creative use of housing programs and financing provided by CMHC.
  • Mortgage Interest rates of 4 to 5 percent are probably better in the long run for controlling spiraling housing costs than really low interest.

There was also discussion about making more strategic use of publicly owned land for affordable housing. Presenters said the Ford Government’s Building More Houses Faster Ac=t will do nothing to bring down housing process.

General Manager Burden told councillors the information released by the presenters  will be used to develop a housing roadmap which will come back to council in the fall. Councillors were generally appreciative of the fresh and sometimes challenging insights provided by the housing think tank which is housed at McMaster University.

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