Hamilton has been experiencing a slow-motion crisis in housing affordability. Do you support an expanded role for the City to provide more affordable housing? If so, what should Hamilton do? If not, why not?

Responses to the question: "Hamilton has been experiencing a slow-motion crisis in housing affordability. Do you support an expanded role for the City to provide more affordable housing? If so, what should Hamilton do? If not, why not? "

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10 Candidate Responses (top)

Ward 01
CandidateBrief ResponseFull Response
Allen, Jason Yes There are a few things the city could be doing to encourage affordable housing in Hamilton. The first is to implement inclusionary zoning in some parts of the city – especially long the proposed LRT corridor – that would allow the city to bargain building height for below market value suites in mid and high-rise buildings. The second thing we could do is encourage laneway suites to possibly ease rental shortages and to revitalize our laneways. Finally, there is an innovative program coming out of Waterloo where they are offering loans to homeowners of up to $25,000 for either building below market value secondary suites in their homes, or to bring existing suites up to code.
Anderson, Sharon Yes Yes. There are three main things Hamilton should do. First make sure the City zoning and planning processes are supportive of smaller developments to increase the amount of housing available. Second in larger developments require a certain percentage of rent controlled units within the development. Third improve and increase the housing stock provided by the City through mixed income developments which are designed to enable those living in them to be resilient in the case of emergencies.
Cole, Sharon Yes I do. In addition to what I have stated in response to the first question, Hamilton should continue to work with organizations like Indwell on the Hamilton Apartment Program, and encourage the continued research of emerging urban design options, including laneway homes, tiny homes and carriage homes.
Eroglu, Ela Yes Affordable housing and endemic poverty in certain parts of the city are top citywide issue. Housing is a human right and a basic need for everybody. Rapidly escalating rents and the price of housing, with graduates in higher education owing mountains of debt, owning a home is a dream for most families. Every Hamiltonian should have access to safe and affordable housing, and people of all income levels should be able to live with dignity. People should not be living and dying on our streets.

Close to 6,000 households are waiting for subsidized housing and this number is expected to be 10,000 in coming years. If done right, inclusionary zoning will provide opportunities to create affordable, mixed-income neighbourhoods that would help solve the growing housing problem.

Creating a diversity of neighbourhoods with mixed housing is very important to build an inclusive and vibrant city. I would support zoning by-laws that require a proportion of new housing developments to be affordable to low-income families. In Ward 1, I would support mid-density growth along major corridors such as Main St. West and adding extra storeys to the commercial buildings. However, I believe that open communication, engagement and transparency are very important for achieving the desired result.
Geffros, Sophie Yes Absolutely. I believe that safe, secure, and affordable housing is a fundamental human right, and the City must step in where the market has failed. While proposals like laneway homes are creative and aesthetically pleasing, they will not be sufficient to address this crisis. The City must use its power to mandate the building of affordable housing in private developments. If elected, I will ensure that all new developments have between 15 and 25% affordable or geared-to-income units. I look to examples like Paris, France, and Leeds in the UK. Leeds in particular shares many characteristics with Hamilton, and has seen enormous success in mandating affordable housing in new developments, with the majority of units being rented at between 60 and 80% of market-rate housing. Further, any developments along transit lines or the new LRT line must have a proportion earmarked for seniors and people with disabilities.
We must also address the crisis in CityHousing. Only ⅕ of CityHousing in Ward One is barrier-free, and this must change. Further, much of it is in terrible conditions, with bedbug and cockroach infestations, water damage, and black mould. Council cannot expect CityHousing tenants to live in conditions that they would never accept in their own homes. We must build new CityHousing and overhaul the existing buildings so that they are safe and accessible.
Massie, Richard Yes Yes the City can use inclusionary zoning to require developers to make a larger percentage of new units affordable, creating mixed income communities. Tax installments leave the City holding lots of cash for periods that may be used to cover the borrowing cost, zero-interest loans for affordable co-operatives.
Miklos, Lyla Yes Capitalism has taken over Hamilton's housing market with a vengeance. 10 years ago I could have bought a cute little home in downtown Hamilton for about 100K. Right now homes in my Strathcona neighbourhood are being listed at half a million dollars or more. Rents have gone up exponentially too. 1 bedroom apartments in Hamilton are listed at $1000 a month or more. Hamilton has become unaffordable for Hamiltonians to continue living here. Landlord and homeowners are listing at these prices because they can and because there are people willing to pay for homes at these rates. So how can a Municipality keep Hamiltonians from being priced out of their own city? One way is to make developers who create multi-unit dwellings make a commitment to units that are subsidized and/or geared to income. Not market driven, because the market is what is driving housing prices up to levels that hardly anyone can reach. I had a conversation with someone who has several investment properties and I have to ask all of us to think long and hard about how much profit is truly enough for anyone. Just because you can ask for that amount, does it mean that you should. Making the profit motive be the driving force for our decisions leads to far too many of our most vulnerable citizens being left behind. If we truly value the lives of all Hamiltonians we have to see housing as a human right and your elected officials need to insure that your rights are protected.
Narducci, Linda Yes Affordable housing is a global growing concern The City must be open to listen to the residents and the needs, it needs to think long-term but also consider immediate needs. It is their responsibility to bring in regulations that encourages a diverse mix of housing types. With much talk about lane houses there are other options such as cluster homes. Affordable housing needs to be close to opportunity/jobs, transit. The City needs to implement a 20% rate on affordability with all new developments.
White, Harrison Yes Affordable housing is a massive problem in the City of Hamilton as well as in the ward. In Ward 1 right now, property owners frequently evaluate the value of their property based on the price per bedroom, a metric which they use to charge student renters. Ward 1 residents face the highest increases in property value throughout the city, paying 172$ more in taxes under the 2018 budget than the year before, with Ward 14 only paying 21$. The student housing issue clearly has drastically inflated the evaluations of property in this area.

At the city level, Hamilton residents on a whole have seen rents increase faster than the average of Ontario, an eviction rates have skyrocketed as landlords seek to improve their profits. Luckily residents are already fighting back, with the adoption of things like ACORN in Hamilton. But the city can do more to facilitate housing, Social Planning & Research Hamilton did a study in June and compared Hamilton’s policies to that of Quebec City. This document makes some amazing policy comparisons that demonstrate the importance of tenant protection policies and the positive impact they have on the rental market, and the broader economy. Landlords love to make people think that improving tenant protection will hurt their profits or discourage development, but Quebec City has had more than 12,000 private primary rental market units built since 2011, compared to only 700 in Hamilton during that same period despite similar growth metrics. Hamilton needs to implement policies that they can to improve the ability that renters have to a safe, affordable living environment. We also need to try and work with the province to establish rules that municipalities just don’t have the authority to do. Jeffery Martin a McMaster Graduate student at the school of Labour Studies reported that he had not seen homelessness like this in Hamilton until this year, demonstrating the clear importance of this subject not just in Ward 1 but across the city. I have plans and am ready to act on this issue as Ward 1 and Hamilton as a city need to drastically improve the way we have, or rather haven’t, addressed the booming real estate market in the city and the problems that have come with it.
Wilson, Maureen Yes Affordable housing is key to supporting the city’s official vision to be the best place to raise a child and age successfully and is fundamental to sustainability, positive educational outcomes, health and prosperity.

The market has not and will not self correct to address this crisis. Intervention on the part of all levels of government (federal, provincial and municipal) is necessary.

Monocultures are never healthy. Every neighbourhood across the city must take advantage of the opportunity to include affordable housing in its development plans.

Finally, I must add that in our affordable housing strategy we must have full awareness of the circumstances and needs of residents. To this end, it is my fundamental belief that we must apply a gender lens to our housing strategy. A gendered lens is a disciplined, informed practice of looking at something - in this case affordable housing - rooted in the fundamental acceptance that urbanization is a deeply gendered process. Women and men experience urban environments differently. A failure to accept this basic premise means that housing policy and housing projects will never be fully informed, and, therefore, will never fully hit its mark.

As Ward 1 City Councillor, I will call for a housing strategy rooted in several pillars:

1. Look for Housing Partners
Identify and work with stakeholders, including our senior orders of government, non-profit organizations and cooperatives, the private sector and individuals, to find opportunities and create an environment that identifies affordable housing as a priority in Hamilton and the responsibility of many.

2. Get the Land and Approvals Ready, Minimize the Risk
Reduce costs and wait times by having the necessary development approvals in place for shovel ready lands across the city for affordable housing projects. This could act as an incentive to private sector investment in affordable housing.

3. Use City Assets for Housing First
Support a “housing first” policy when it comes to identifying and assessing the use of city owned surplus lands.

4. Allow and Encourage Secondary Suites & Laneway housing
Secondary suites, such as basement apartments are the most cost effective means of adding to the available housing supply. Our regulatory environment should facilitate such development along with the development of laneway housing/garden suites. I am very pleased that Hamilton City Council recently approved a regulatory and planning environment that will allow for laneway housing.

5. Utilize Pricing Mechanisms to Encourage Affordable Units
Prices are key drivers of development patterns and housing availability. Municipal government can set prices with its use of development charges, property taxes and user fees. As Ward 1 City Councillor, I would support the suspension of development charges against affordable units.

6. Preserve and Protect Existing Rental Stock
Much of Hamilton’s affordable housing is dependent on the community’s existing private rental stock. But local research is revealing that this stock is being lost to condo conversions. Approximately 2000 primary rental units were removed from the market between 2004 and 2015. (HCF, Vital Signs 2015) As Ward 1 Hamilton City Councillor, I would support a strategy aimed at controlling the rate of conversions and insist that any rental stock lost in demolition be replaced.

7. Support for Low interest Second Mortgage Programs
As Ward 1 Hamilton City Councillor I would support programs that enable residents with low and moderate incomes to qualify for low interest second mortgages, such as those provided by Options for Homes and Trillium Homes. In so doing, individuals can get over the hurdle of a down payment that often serves as a barrier to home ownership.

8. Inclusionary Zoning
The previous Ontario Liberal Government made the legislative changes that give municipalities the ability to insist that a portion of any residential development in excess of 10 units are to include affordable units as part of the overall build. Hamilton must opt in and make use of this land use planning tool.

9 Advocate, Education, Inform
The housing needs of Hamiltonians cannot be met by the City of Hamilton alone. The city must advocate for coordinated action on the part of all stakeholders (Federal and Provincial Governments, private, not for profit sectors) and have continuous conversations with the community about the importance of inclusive, mixed income neighbourhoods and the role of affordable housing in supporting educational, health, economic and social outcomes.

10. Income
The City of Hamilton must continue to champion the need for a level of income supplement from our senior orders of government that will enable lower income persons to secure and maintain their housing needs. Moreover, support for a living wage must also be considered a tool in a basket aimed at improving housing security.

Response Summary (top)

Brief ResponseCount% of Total

3 Candidates Have Not Responded (top)

Ward 01
Bakht, Syed
Geertsma, Jordan
Lazich, Carol E.