New Jersey, Massachusetts and California have all taken noteworthy steps to promote affordable housing. While each state’s approach may be different, they all share the following features, which may serve as best practices for future consideration in Ontario:
- The municipalities are given an affirmative obligation to provide for affordable housing. More specifically, this means that they are obliged to use all of their resources and powers proactively to the fullest extent reasonably possible in supporting the development of affordable housing.
- The obligation is defined in terms of measurable targets or quotas that are set by the states. They provide a basis for assessing performance, and ensure that all municipalities are doing their fair share.
- The term “affordable housing” is defined in a rigorous and functional way. These definitions, in turn, provide the basis for setting the household income thresholds used in determining who is eligible for the affordable housing.
- The municipalities are given the tools necessary to meet the obligation. The most effective (but not only) of these tools is inclusionary zoning, which is permitted in all of these states.
- The municipalities not meeting their obligation are subject to effective penalties.
Source: Richard Drdla, Affordable Housing Consultant