Fundamental to creating healthy and inclusive communities is the availability of a variety of housing options to meet the differing needs of current and future residents. Similar to communities all across Ontario and Canada, Middlesex County is experiencing housing pressures due to changing demographics and market trends.
Access to a range of housing forms, including attainable, affordable and accessible housing, is a priority for the County. In order to better understand the current supply and demand of housing across the County and develop strategies aimed at ensuring a broad array of housing options are available to meet the full spectrum of needs of residents in Middlesex, the County undertook an Attainable Housing Review.
In order to better understand the current supply and demand of housing across the County, and to develop strategies aimed at ensuring a broad array of housing options are available to meet the full spectrum of needs of residents in Middlesex, the County of Middlesex undertook an Attainable Housing Review.
The objectives of the review were to: examine the needs across the entire housing continuum; identify gaps in the provision of housing; prepare a municipal strategy to meet current and future needs.
The project involved data collection and analysis related to current local housing strategies, existing housing data, roles and responsibilities related to housing, best practices and comparison to other municipalities, as well as an extensive community and stakeholder engagement process.
A vision, goals, targets, and recommendations for a municipal strategy to address housing needs were developed based on the information collected through the data collection and engagement phases.
Attainable Housing Review Process
The project was completed in three core phases:
- Project Initiation
- Background Data Collection and Analysis
- Direction and Recommendations
Over the past several months, we have been conducting research and speaking with residents and stakeholders to better understand the current and future housing needs of residents across the full housing continuum.
To date we have heard from over 200 people through the community and stakeholder engagement process.
To learn more about the engagement process and what we have been hearing from people in the community, please see the Middlesex County Attainable Housing Review – What We Are Hearing Report.
We are now in Phase 3 of the project and have developed a Draft Attainable Housing Actions!
The following recommendations were made related to three priorities:
Direction 1 – Clarify Roles in Addressing Housing and Homelessness Needs
- Clearly define the strategic role the County wants to take on related to housing
- Prepare a renewed County-wide plan for housing and homelessness to set strategic directions and inform funding and next steps
- Develop a plan that maps out surplus and other available sites, including property owned by County, local municipalities, conservation authorities, and school boards, and prioritizes sites for affordable housing based on needs and time/level of difficulty to get the sites to a stage that they are ready for construction
- Lead an integrated team to manage execution of the County’s housing strategies
- Consider adding a dedicated housing advisor role to manage the implementation of strategic housing priorities
- Develop an engagement plan aimed at improving communication with local municipalities, the Service System Manager, and the community related to housing
- Consider establishing a strategy to support increased capacity across the County for affordable housing development
- Consider reviewing structures to support development i.e. land banking/land trusts
- Cotinue working with the City of London as the Service System Manager to solicit proposals for housing and homelessness initiatives in the County
- Consider developing a communication strategy about housing needs to address NIMBYism
Direction 2 – Support a Diversity of Housing
- Adopt and implement affordable housing, purpose-built rental housing, and multi-unit housing targets
- Consider adopt policy to Maintain Adequate Housing Supply
- Consider implementing zoning solutions to reduce land costs and increase density
- Consider adopting Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw policies to encourage a range of housing options
- Revise policies that restrict access for certain user groups
- Update policies to support streamlined planning applications, including more as-of-right permissions
- Consider rental retention policies
Direction 3 – An Adequate Supply of Housing that is Affordable and Attainable to Low and Moderate Income Households
- Include a definition of affordable housing in Official Plans
- Consider providing incentives for affordable and supportive housing and purpose-built rental
- Consider establishing modified standards for affordable housing
- Consider prioritizing planning approvals for affordable housing
A copy of the Interim Final Report can be found at Middlesex County Attainable Housing Review Report. It is noted that County Council has not yet endorsed this Report and will be considering this along with additional information and material at an upcoming meeting.