As Hamilton city Council debated the homeless encampment crisis a report was released by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and the West End Homebuilders discussing another side of the issue—the impact of the housing shortage for those who are still in the housing market. The report was prepared by the Smart Prosperity Institute–a national research network and policy think tank based at the University of Ottawa. In essence the report says housing affordability is starting to cost Hamilton economically and to negatively affect its competitive position against other Ontario communities.
Key Points from the report:
- Hamilton’s population is aging: For Hamilton to thrive, it needs to attract and retain talent, from high-tech positions like software engineers to the healthcare workers needed to care for an aging population to the tradespeople needed to build the homes for those workers.
- Hamilton is struggling to attract young talent: In recent years, Hamilton has struggled to attract young workers. It receives fewer immigrants than Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo. It receives fewer families moving in from the Greater Toronto Area than Oshawa. It receives fewer international students, particularly compared to places like London.
- Hamilton is also struggling to retain young families: Hamilton is also having difficulty retaining talent. It is losing thousands of people, on net, yearly to Brantford and St. Catharines-Niagara. It is also losing greater numbers of persons to other provinces than other mid-sized Ontario metros.
- Hamilton is losing families to communities with lower housing costs, like Brantford and St. Catharines:
- Housing availability is the primary driver of migration in the Hamilton area. Those moving to and from Hamilton are looking for attainable housing that meets their needs, particularly families with young children.
- Hamilton has a housing shortage, which helps explains both high home prices and outmigration: there is a pre-existing housing shortage of roughly 14,500 units in the City of Hamilton alone.
- Hamilton has a shortage of family-friendly housing: Despite this need to attract families with young children, Hamilton’s housing stock is shifting towards building smaller, less child-friendly units.
- Hamilton and Burlington need to double-home building over the next decade: The province has given Burlington a homebuilding target of 29,000 units and Hamilton a target of 47,000 units over the next decade.
- Hamilton will have increased difficulty competing with cities like Ottawa and Calgary for talent due to a lack of attainable housing: Hamilton is still relatively competitive in attracting families without children, but families are being priced out.
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