An Ontario NDP government would build 1.5 million affordable homes over the next 10 years, leader Andrea Horwath announced Friday.
The pledge is an amendment to their "Homes You Can Afford" plan, which originally promised 100,000 new affordable housing units over the next decade.
The party is promising a mixture of starter homes, affordable housing units and purpose-built rentals, said Horwath while making a campaign stop in Burlington with local candidate Andrew Drummond.
Horwath said it would give those priced out of the housing market an opportunity to join it.
“I've heard far too many stories over a number of years now that it's gotten a lot worse,” Horwath said. “Stories of young people who have absolutely given up hope. What we are saying is there is hope.”
Back in February, the provincial government’s Housing Affordability Task Force found that 1.5 million homes would need to be built in Ontario over the next 10 years to combat the housing shortage. The task force also recommended incentivizing municipalities to cut red tape, greater efforts to densify urban centres, and the removal of exclusionary zoning.
The NDP’s new additions to its housing plan included ending exclusionary zoning that prohibits certain types of housing from being built. Horwath used the street where her announcement took place as an example of the type of housing the party hopes to achieve by ending the practice.
“The granny flats, the extra units in existing buildings, the conversion of garages. We know that's something that is a really great solution, both for the owner and for the renter,” she said.
The Ontario Real Estate Association, which advocates for realtors, is against exclusionary zoning. In a September 2021 statement, the organization said exclusionary zoning, “delays projects, costs additional money and leaves people stranded without an affordable home.” The statement went on to say that exclusionary zoning “encourage(s) NIMBY (not in my backyard) forces to drive up costs of homes or drive away affordable homes in a neighbourhood entirely.”
In addition to creating policy that would allow for the construction of 1.5 million affordable homes, the NDP is also promising to launch “Housing Ontario,” an agency meant to finance affordable and non-market rentals run by public, non-profit and co-op housing organizations. Through the agency, the party promises to directly finance at least another 250,000 affordable homes over the next decade.
The NDP is also promising to increase the number of affordable housing units near transit and pedestrian-friendly communities, a plan similar to the Greens' and Progressive Conservatives’.
The Greens’ plan will include density targets along transit corridors. The party said they do not plan to achieve this through the construction of condos alone. The Greens are also pledging to create neighbourhoods that have amenities that are walkable within 15 minutes.
The PCs’ housing plan includes building seven transit-oriented communities (TOCs), including the recently announced plan to build 40,000 new homes along the Yonge North Subway Extension. Leader Doug Ford said his government will use minister's zoning orders (MZOs) to complete the projects, avoiding slowdowns from municipalities.
Horwath is pledging not to “abuse” MZOs, calling them “a sledgehammer approach to planning” on Friday, and promising to work with municipalities to increase supply.
“It's something that they've [Ontario mayors] been talking about for a long time. And they were sorely disappointed that Doug Ford and the conservatives decided not to go forward with ending exclusionary zoning,” Horwath said. “We think it's about time that happens.”
The Liberals say they will only fast-track what they deem “critical” projects such as affordable housing or expanding the number of provincially protected land. The party did not specify in the statement how they intend to fast-track those projects without MZOs.
The Greens have said they plan on using MZOs only in “exceptional circumstances” and with public consultation. The Liberals on the other hand say they will stop the use of MZOs. In a November 2021 statement, the party said scrapping MZOs would prevent the government from being able, “to steamroll local communities to force through rewards for well-connected friends.”
Other components of the earlier version of the NDP’s housing plan, which it released back in November 2020, were promises to: make all rental properties rent controlled, reform the province’s new home warranty body, bring back the option for in-person hearings at the Landlord and Tenant Board, and put an end to so called “renovictions” where tenants are forced out of rental properties for upgrades or repairs.
The NDP is projecting to spend $3.7 billion dollars over the course of the first four years of the plan. The party has yet to release a fully costed election platform, but Horwath says they will soon.