What governments aren't doing to help the housing crisis

By Debbie Cosic
September 18, 2023

Toronto’s housing shortage is at an all-time high. Prices for homes and rental units have soared. I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know, but because development approvals can take years, new-home construction hasn’t been able to keep up with population growth.

Recently, the provincial and city governments signed an agreement to top up the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) by $13.4 million. This investment is supposed to provide rental supplements and help to match applicants with available homes. Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow pointed out that this one-time injection of funds will help 1,350 people find a place to live. My question to Mayor Chow is, where are you going to find this accommodation? It’s not going to miraculously appear if there’s nothing currently available. What are the plans for building and repurposing vacant structures to house people?

If it’s broken – fix it

It can be said of most government agencies, and no one is buying the pandemic excuse anymore, but many departments are so far behind the eight ball that the piles of work are teetering at dangerously high levels. You can feel this disparity and lack of accountability if you try to get a rushed passport or lodge a complaint with the Landlord and Tenant Board. The LTB is close to two years behind. Chances are, many disputes will never get resolved, and when you have this type of physical and emotional delay, no one wins. Those who are looking for a resolution about their situation will not benefit if there’s a severe lack of logical thinking because the staff are also in crisis mode. How is this effective governing?

Antiquated processes and procedures need to be revaluated, and then new policies and work strategies have to be put into place. So many people resist change, but when you keep doing things the same way and expect different results, nothing improves.

Applications are being stalled at every government level, and we need to build houses at a faster rate to accommodate the growing need. From permits to approvals, the municipal offices can’t handle it – so change it. The wheel doesn’t have to be reinvented, but departmental restructuring is necessary so that it’s more efficient and can rotate at a higher speed. “There’s such a backlog at the municipal level,” says Ralph Del Duca, president and COO of Chestnut Hill Developments. “That builders can’t even bring housing solutions to the market.”

Del Duca goes on to say that if the government taxes investors, then it affects the investment pool. “Builders need investors so that they can build condos.” Investors equal sales. Sales equal construction. And construction equals completed buildings that are available for rent.

Most politicians don’t have the education or work experience when it comes to developmental planning and construction, and those who sit in government offices rubber-stamping projects, are no more informed. If the staff is overworked, then it would serve everyone to collaborate with the unions and to outsource tasks that require specific expertise, such as assisting with planning permissions that would help to expedite the home-building process.

We talk about AI (Artificial Intelligence), but we struggle with EI (emotional intelligence), or to put it more simply – common sense. If there are less rentals coming to the market, then prices are going to be higher because there’s less inventory available. “If there is an overabundance of housing,” says Del Duca,” rents will control themselves and prices will adjust accordingly.”

About Debbie Cosic

Debbie Cosic, CEO and founder of In2ition Realty, has worked in all facets of the real estate industry for over 25 years. She has sold and overseen the sales of more than $15 billion worth of real estate. With Debbie at its helm, In2ition has become one of the fastest-growing and most innovative new home and condo sales companies. In2ition has received numerous awards from the Building Industry & Land Development and the National Association of Home Builders.

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