Will government recognize GTA housing supply problem?

We need the government to take action on our housing supply crisis and pricing challenges in the GTA, like it has on skyrocketing hydro rates.

Similar to electricity rates, housing prices in the GTA and surrounding areas have risen significantly over the past decade, and like hydro provincial policy is a key contributor to the upsurge. Due to the direct and indirect impacts of government policies we are not building enough housing to support population growth or consumer demand in the GTA and therefore the price of housing has skyrocketed.

The seriousness of our housing problem was reinforced by a couple of recent studies. Toronto is the now the 13th least affordable housing market in the world, according to the 13th Annual Demographia Housing Affordability Survey. It also found that home prices in the GTA are significantly more expensive than those of the New York City metro area when you compare the prices across the two regions as a whole.

A report by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. found that the GTA’s housing problems are now causing price increases as far away as St. Catharines-Niagara and Kitchener-Waterloo.

We all know how hard and expensive it has become to buy a home in the GTA. Despite never seen before prices, fewer people are listing their homes and there are far more buyers than there are homes to buy.

On the new homes side, builders and developers are quickly selling any product that they can bring to the market and builder inventories are at never seen before lows. In the GTA in December 2006, there were 11,602 new single-family detached homes available to purchase in builder inventories. At the end of January there were 534.

There are many stories about prospective homebuyers sleeping in their cars so that they can be near the front of the line when the sales office opens. Some of our members are forgoing traditional sales launches all together because they have hundreds of potential buyers registered for every home in the development and they don’t want to disappoint buyers they can’t accommodate.

Even though we are the land development and home building industry we are not able to just launch more projects and build more homes because there are many barriers in our way. However, many of the challenges could be resolved by the government if it wanted to work with us to address them. Some of the solutions, such as fixing the approvals process by reducing excessive red tape and modernizing local zoning bylaws so that they align with provincial intensification policy, could be achieved without additional costs.

The time has come to acknowledge that we have a housing problem in the GTA. It is time for government to recognize that we can all work together on solutions to address our housing supply crisis so that today’s new home buyers and future generations have a place to live and access to homes they can afford to purchase.

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