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Affordable Housing

In February 2015, City Council approved the Affordable Housing Strategy (AHS), which provides a progressive plan to encourage, stimulate and increase the supply and range of affordable housing options to meet the needs of our residents, at all income levels and stages of life. 

Laying the Foundation for Affordable Housing

The City’s goal is to create 840 affordable units by 2024. Some of the initiatives outlined in the City’s Affordable Housing Strategy that will allow the City to achieve this:

  • Implementing a new Community Improvement Plan (CIP) to provide financial incentives for the development of affordable housing throughout the city
  • Consider new housing types which currently do not exist in Barrie such as container housing, micro housing and back-to-back town housing.
  • Review existing engineering and urban design standards and remove/reduce standards which increase the cost of developing affordable housing. 

Our Progress
121 of 840 Affordable Homes Created

  • Introduced the Built Form Task Force (BFTF) consisting of City staff, housing provider representatives, developers and other stakeholders
  • Amended existing Second Suites Policy to increase affordable rental properties in existing and newly developing areas
  • The Built Form Task Force hosted public meeting to consider new housing types in Barrie (June)
Last updated August 2016

"Affordable Housing" Defined

Affordable housing encompasses a range of housing types allowing all residents to find suitable living space without spending a disproportionate percentage of their income. It can include ownership, rental or social housing.

Affordable housing a growing issue in Barrie (statistics from 2015):

  • Only 32% of Barrie’s resale-property prices met the definition of affordability
  • Barrie’s vacancy rate is 1.3% with only 5 Canadian cities having a lower vacancy rate. Healthy housing markets have a 5% rental vacancy rate or higher.
  • Average rents in Barrie remain among the highest in Canada with only Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal reporting higher rents.
  • Rental fees are pricey due to the low supply of rental units and the high demand by our aging population and growing student body 

Affordable housing is a complex and multi-faceted issue. No single level of government or element is the cause or can be held responsible for the solution. It is all of our collective efforts that will generate results.

Affordable Housing Means a Thriving Future

Housing is a basic and fundamental need. Access to safe, affordable and adequate housing promotes: 

Health & Well Being

Housing is an essential factor for health and wellness. Research shows that people who experience stable, secure and affordable housing are better able to manage their health situations for positive outcomes. Though everyone experiences the same spectrum of illness, the severity and frequency of illness in people who are homeless is much higher. Stability and affordability of housing helps people maintain the level of care they need through the ability to purchase healthier foods, follow a prescribed diet, attend follow-up medical appointments and manage medications.

Community Engagement

Having a home increases a resident’s opportunity to participate in the social and economic fabric of our community. Access to needed health and social services, ability to fully participate in the work force and even influence the decisions made by various levels of governments all become a possibility.

Educational Success

Affordable housing has a long-lasting impact on our city’s future success by building a strong foundation of education in our youth. Research shows a correlation between poor quality housing and the ability to focus at school, which has many negative impacts for children: increased stress, frequent absenteeism and lack of participation all lead to poor academic performance.

Sustained Economic Health

Affordable housing is closely linked to economic status. For instance, Barrie is a tourist destination with an abundance of winter and summer activities, making it an important source for economic stability. However, people working within this sector often earn minimum wage. Lack of affordable living options for people earning minimum wage puts our tourism and hospitality sector at risk.

Affordable housing affects more than the hospitality industry. Barrie is constantly aiming to diversify its labour market by introducing more industry and economic opportunity. Both labour and housing availability are key considerations in business location decisions. Businesses need a ready labour supply to function, yet there must be affordable housing options for labourers moving to work for that business.

Personal & Public Safety

Creating affordable housing for our citizens will foster a sense of personal and public safety. Spending too much of one’s income on housing means less money for basic needs like food and clothing. To make up for the shortfall, some people may turn to petty theft, public begging and even prostitution. More affordable housing options would minimize the risk of these broader social issues.

Community Vitality

Affordable housing creates a more inclusive environment for everyone regardless of age, sex, income level, ability, socio/economic standing, family type or national origin.

For full details please see the County of Simcoe's Our Community 10 Year Affordable Housing and Homeless Prevention Strategy.

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