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Stratford is moving forward with new strategies to increase the housing stock that can be achieved

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Stratford city officials are turning to the private sector for help in responding to problems that concern communities across the country – how to address the critical shortage of affordable housing.

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Stratford city officials are turning to the private sector for help in responding to problems that concern communities across the country – how to address the critical shortage of affordable housing.

The effort to solve the problem in Stratford, led by City Hall and the City Economic Development Company, received widespread support from council members at Tuesday’s meeting.

Joani Gerber, CEO of InvestStratford, said the strategy, which will be developed after Stratford received a provincial grant for the work last summer, contains three key ideas:

  • The review of the city’s development process focused on finding “small changes” to encourage projects that include affordable housing options;
  • Two achievable housing pilot projects 3188 Vivian Line and 150 McCarthy Rd. W., a newly managed city-owned country of residence; and
  • Council-led effort to establish grants and loans to encourage developers to build affordable homes and rental housing in the city.

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“We had a really long list of stakeholders and two part-time workers who worked with us by 2020 to do a comprehensive review of how we can better support private-public partnerships to increase the stock of housing available,” Gerber said. “The purpose of this project is to explore ways in which the city can be an active partner in solutions.”

Achievable housing is not the same as affordable housing, a term often associated with housing options provided by social services. According to an InvestStratford report, housing is affordable if mortgage or rental payments are less than 30 percent of a household’s gross income to low- or moderate-income homeowners or tenants.

This definition needs to be flexible, the report says, but it is meant to capture those who are currently priced in the red real estate market. Gerber called them the “missing middle ground,” providing examples of intergenerational families, young professionals, new families, and the elderly.

From a glimpse into what they face, May was again a record month for real estate in the counties of Huron and Perth, according to a local brokerage association. The average price of homes sold in the area last month was $ 616,215, up 39.4 percent from last year. Nearly 250 units were sold in May, up 72.7 percent from 2020.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in the Stratford area returned to pre-pandemic levels last month, reaching 4.1 per cent, according to Canadian statistics.

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“I think it’s critical – I mean the red alert is critical – from a workforce development perspective,” Gerber said. “If people don’t have a place to live, they won’t see your community as a place to grow and thrive with their families. (If) we don’t have a workforce or our workforce starts to shrink and our companies start to lack the ability to grow and expand, it’s a huge cycle that just repeats itself. “

Council councils on Tuesday acknowledged that there should be better access to housing in Stratford and voted unanimously to approve the strategy, at which point city staff began looking for funding.

The financial estimates for the projects described in the report are preliminary and have not been allocated in this year’s budget. Town council looks forward to further reports on the financial impact of the projects at future meetings.

It was a matter of controversy for the Coun. Tom Clifford.

“I support housing, but I don’t support something that comes to the council without us having time to study it and look at the consequences and what it really costs,” he said.

But the discussion at Tuesday’s meeting was generally positive.

“I really like in my report on this report that it narrows the scope we look at and creates a clear mandate for affordable housing and the missing center,” Coun. Kathy Vassilakos said. “I think the crisis right now is really for those young people and young families who are initially trying to move into a market that doesn’t have that much down payment.”

cmontanini@postmedia.com

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