November 21, 2018
National Housing Day in Canada highlights importance of safe and affordable housing for all
Oxford County recognizes community need for accessible housing
November 22 is National Housing Day in Canada, a day dedicated to recognizing the need for safe and affordable housing for all and raising awareness of the housing challenges faced by communities across the country. Oxford County, in working towards a vision of a vibrant, prosperous and responsible Oxford for all, notes housing as a critical component of the community pillar outlined in the Community Sustainability Plan.
Oxford County has undertaken a number of initiatives to work towards meeting the housing needs of the community, including the approval of the 10 Year Shelter Plan, Draft Zero Poverty Plan and the adoption of the Housing First Policy that outlines how proceeds from sales of surplus County-owned property will be reinvested to meet the growing demand for housing.
Over the past four years, the County has awarded $7.7 million in federal and provincial funding and invested $4.3 million in County funding to create 386 affordable housing units. Since Council’s adoption of a mandate in 2017, all new affordable housing developments will achieve Passive House standards or energy targets, resulting in buildings that require little energy to heat or cool. The outcome of the mandate will be high-performing apartment buildings providing residents with affordable accommodation, comfort and low utility bills with limited energy consumption.
Investments in affordable housing developments are important steps towards addressing ongoing housing challenges in Oxford County. An adequate supply of affordable housing helps reduce disparity within the population and can provide greater stability to families and individuals. Oxford County’s waiting list for rent geared to income (RGI) housing includes 1,500 applicants. Approximately 100 of the 1,307 RGI housing units in the County become available each year, a clear demonstration of the demand for affordable housing exceeding the supply.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) considers a 3% vacancy rate to be a balanced rental market. The 2017 vacancy rates in Woodstock, Tillsonburg and Ingersoll are all below the 3% threshold. The CMHC identifies housing as affordable if it costs less than 30% of a household’s before-tax income. For a one bedroom apartment to be considered affordable at the region’s average market rent of $908 per month, a household needs to earn approximately $36,000 per year.
Providing people with adequate, affordable housing has economic advantages beyond helping residents save money. The construction of affordable housing units offers opportunities for labour market participation and creates jobs. Currently, three multi-residential projects are under construction and two additional projects will begin construction in spring 2019. The owners of each project are hiring local contractors to construct the new buildings, contributing directly to the local job market and economic growth. More information about these new affordable housing projects can be found at www.oxfordcounty.ca/buildbetter.
Paul Beaton, Director, Human Services
“The importance of safe, affordable housing for all cannot be overstated. Research has shown access to housing that is safe and affordable is a key way to support individuals and families out of poverty. On National Housing Day and every day, Oxford County is committed to addressing the housing needs of our communities through key investments and innovative projects like the upcoming Blossom Park multi-residential development. With housing noted in multiple Council-approved plans, it is an area of focus as we work towards a vibrant, prosperous and responsible Oxford for all.”
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About Oxford County
Located in the heart of southwestern Ontario at the crossroads of Highways 401 and 403, Oxford County has a population of approximately 114,000 people across eight area municipalities that are “growing stronger together.” As a partnership-oriented, two-tier municipal government, Oxford County is emerging as a leader in sustainable growth through the Future Oxford Community Sustainability Plan and County Council’s commitment to achieving 100% renewable energy, becoming a zero waste community, and working towards zero poverty. Situated in one of Ontario’s richest areas for farmland, agriculture is a key industry that serves as a springboard for some of the sustainable industries that are steadily diversifying the local economy. Oxford County offers a thriving local arts, culture and culinary community, as well as conservation parks, natural areas and more than 100 kilometres of scenic trails. The Oxford County Administration Building is located in Woodstock, Ontario. Visit www.oxfordcounty.ca or follow our social media sites at www.oxfordcounty.ca/social. Oxford County’s Strategic Plan is at oxfordcounty.ca/strategicplan.
Jennifer Austin | Strategic Communication & Engagement
519.539.9800, ext. 3505 | firstname.lastname@example.org