Rents are skyrocketing. House prices are too high. Many Saskatoon residents aren’t sure if they’ll ever be able to afford their first home. Others will have to leave their city in search of more affordable solutions.
Housing connects us all. And not enough housing affects us all. It impacts affordability and rental prices, and hurts the most economically disadvantaged.
There is a solution: Saskatoon needs more homes.
For decades, Saskatoon has not been building enough homes. Our population keeps growing (which is good), but the number of homes we build to house people hasn’t kept up. A shortage of housing supply combined with high demand means that the value of the homes that do exist go up in price.
The pandemic highlighted our housing shortage thanks to several factors. Many people wanted to move because their needs changed (e.g. they needed more space because they were now working from home, or they wanted to move to be closer to family). Many saved money because they couldn’t spend it on other things (like vacations), so they had more to spend on housing. And the low interest rate environment, which encouraged spending to help the economy rebound, also helped to offset those higher prices and make it mortgages more affordable. These factors combined resulted in rapidly rising home prices.
Now with interest rates rising, the flurry of activity has cooled. But that doesn’t mean that people no longer need homes, nor does it mean housing is now more affordable. House price growth has slowed, but buyers can’t afford as much due to higher interest rates. When people can’t afford to buy their first home, they stay in rental units. Then there are more people who want or need to rent than there are vacancies. And that’s when we see rental prices starting to go up.
It’s all connected. We need more homes, of all types.
Building more homes is not as easy as it may seem. There are a lot of steps to go through, each one intended to ensure that our communities grow thoughtfully and with care. And often there are barriers to getting homes built – and getting the right kind of homes built. Below is a list of common issues, and solutions.
These challenges continually slow down or stop the construction of much-needed housing supply in many cities across the country. To help, the federal government’s new Housing Accelerator Fund is being designed to offer support to municipalities that: grow housing supply faster than their historical average; increase densification; speed-up approval times; tackle NIMBYism and establish inclusionary zoning bylaws; and encourage public transit-oriented development.
Solution: Creating systemic change to enable more housing supply to come online faster will require municipalities to be dedicated to more supply, have support from their constituencies, and have funds to make the systemic changes. All municipalities should be applying to the Housing Accelerator Fund to make this happen.
You can help be part of the solution:
Push your local government: Get informed about how your municipal leaders are supporting housing supply. And call on your municipal leaders to take action. Ask them what they are doing to support more housing supply and ensure they are taking action to:
Support local housing supply efforts: Be supportive when your community grows, whether that’s increasing the density in your neighbourhood or building a new community nearby. Be part of consultations that will ensure growth inward, upward, and outward. We all deserve a place to live.
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