The Housing Continuum and the need for new housing

The housing continuum is essential for housing affordability across Canada. In the Kawarthas urban centers offer shelters, transitional services, and supportive housing, while rural areas have market rate and luxury homes. We need all types of housing for the housing continuum and filtering to work.

The housing continuum is a conceptual framework that illustrates the range of housing options available to individuals and families, from homelessness to full homeownership.

The Housing Continuum typically includes several stages, such as:

  • Homeless: Living outside, in a vehicle or couch surfing
  • Emergency Shelters: Temporary accommodation for those who are homeless.
  • Transitional Housing: Temporary housing that provides support services to help individuals move towards more stable housing.
  • Social or Subsidized Housing: Affordable rental housing for low-income individuals and families, often supported by government programs
  • Affordable Rental Housing: Rental housing that meets the needs and budget of individuals and families
  • Affordable Home Ownership: Ownership that meets the needs and budget of individuals and families (Habitat for Humanity model)
  • Private Market Rentals: Rental housing available at market rates without subsidies.
  • Homeownership: The stage where individuals or families own their home.

The continuum helps policymakers, service providers, and community organizations understand the diverse housing needs and develop strategies to support people in moving towards more stable and permanent housing solutions.

Across Canada all types of housing are needed to ensure individuals can move through the continuum throughout their lives, ideally going from rental to homeownership. 94% of Canadians live in a home they have purchased or rented without government subsidies (CHBA 2019). In Ontario, 80% of individuals live in market housing (United Way Peterborough 2022).

We need all types of housing to achieve affordability for Canadians

The need for market-rate housing is essential in providing opportunities for individuals to move up through the housing continuum. When there are not enough market-rate homes, individuals get stuck in rentals or subsidized housing because there is nowhere else for them to move. CHBA CEO Kevin Lee spoke to the HUMA Committee in May 2024 about the need for housing at all levels to provide housing choices for Canadians, because "No matter how many affordable [housing] units you build the line up will keep getting longer for more" (Parliament of Canada 2024). We need to fix housing affordability before we can fix the social housing problems because prices continue to rise as demand is not being met at any level. Ensuing the market rate housing is being built faster than supportive housing is necessary to restore affordability since 94% of Canadians own or rent.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce notes the "missing middle" housing and the need to incentivize affordable housing development (Ontario Chamber of Commerce 2023). Zoning by-laws and municipal requirements dictate what is built where in a community (Storeys 2023). Zoning was created in the early 1900s so municipalities could control what and where buildings could be built (University Toronto 1982). The creation of zoning by-laws lead to the creation of the Provincial Planning Act, which became a way for neighborhoods to create and maintain character, through excluding housing that looked different(Strong Towns). These policies have increased over the years. Now to build a residential building it takes years to write reports and email comments to get permits before a shovel can go in the ground to actually build anything.

Municipal support and buy-in are the first step to building the missing middle and increasing market-rate supply. Building the missing middle will require the densification of urban and serviced areas. (Smart Density 2022). Increased housing supply of all types of housing is needed to restore affordability. Increasing subsidized housing at the expense of market-rate housing creation will not meet the demand to restore affordability (Fraser Institute 2021).

In 2022, Habitat for Humanity Ontario Caucus published a report stating that when funding is spent on emergency measures and short-term housing it provides fewer pathways for individuals to find affordable rental and homeownership opportunities (Habitat for Humanity Ontario 2022). We need to ensure there is an equal focus on subsidized housing, rentals and market-rate home ownership to bring back affordability. The goal for affordability is 30% of household income spent on shelter (CMHC). The Canadian Mortgage & Housing Corporation's economist notes that "filtering" through the housing continuum is essential to keep housing affordable (CMHC June 2024).

The Ontario Provincial and Federal Governments listened to the building industry and businesses when they removed all government taxes on new purpose-built rentals in September 2023 (CHBA). HST accounts for half of the government fees and taxes on new housing, with the other 15% going to municipalities (Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis 2023).

Ontario needs to build over 1.7 Million Homes to meet demand over the next 8 years (Smart Prosperity Institute 2024) The Government of Ontario has given many municipalities housing targets and is keeping track of progress (Ontario 2023). The housing targets have pushed municipalities to track data and performance in a way that has never been done. This has brought many positive changes and transparency for some municipalities, but has also seen pushback on tracking housing starts versus building permits in some areas (CBC News June 2024). The demand for housing will only be met with completed homes of all types being built. The housing continuum only works when there are completed homes or rentals for individuals to move into.

The City of Peterborough has met 10% of its annual Housing Target as of June 12, 2024

Locally, the City of Peterborough has been given a 10-year housing target of 4,700 new residential units by 2031; the City of Kawartha Lakes has been given a target of 6,500 units over the same time. The new units can be single-family, townhomes, condo or apartment units. Building more market-rate housing units is essential in restoring affordability to the housing market in the Peterborough and Kawartha Lakes Regions.

The City of Kawartha Lakes released a report on the Housing Pledge in November 2023 (Housing Pledge 2023). The report reviews their population growth and residential development projections. There are over 18,000 units in the planning pipeline at various stages, including 10,000 units from Ministerial Zoning Orders. The Growth Management Strategy for the City of Kawartha Lakes is updated annually to accommodate the population and residential growth expectations and realities for Kawartha Lakes (Kawartha Lakes 2023). Kawartha Lakes received the Building Faster Fund for building 431 of the 477 housing target for 2023 (Ontario). Kawartha Lakes is set up to continue to meet the housing target with active construction in Lindsay and Bobcaygeon. Kawartha Lakes is currently at 25% of its 2024 target.

The City of Peterborough's Municipal Housing Pledge report shows 6,802 units in the planning pipeline (General Committee October 2023). The City has been making improvements to increase development such as updating processes outlined in the Development Approval Process Review (DAP 2021), updating policies for the Housing Accelerator Fund application (HAF June 2023), and the creation of the Mayor's Housing Taskforce in January 2024 (Taskforce 2024). Peterborough received the Building Faster Fund for building 506 of the 345 unit housing target for 2023 (Currents March 2024). Peterborough is currently at 10% of its 2024 target.

The County of Peterborough has given itself a housing target as part of the Eastern Ontario Warden's Caucus's 7 in 7 Project. The project is for 7,000 community/subsidized rental units and 21,000 market units across Eastern Ontario in 7 years (EOWC 2023).

City of Peterborough Mayoral Candidates Meeting on Housing Continuum (PKHBA 2022)