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Town to Rebate Development Charges for Affordable Housing

Posted on Tuesday June 12, 2018

At their regular meeting on Monday, June 4, Essex Town Council unanimously passed a motion to rebate the municipal portion of development charges on the construction of affordable housing units in the Town’s four urban centres.

The change is aimed at meeting the demand for new homes at affordable prices.

“This is another step towards encouraging the construction of homes that meet the needs of all of our residents,” explained Jeff Watson, Policy Planner with the Town of Essex. “The rising cost of housing, paired with an aging population looking to downsize, has put a strain on available affordable housing stock in our community.”

Housing is considered affordable if it costs less than 30 percent of an average family income. In 2016, 10 percent of Essex Centre families spent more than 30 percent of their income for homes they own, with an even greater percentage spending above average for rental units. These statistics will likely rise with the release of the next census.

The program targets projects which have been approved under the provincial government’s Investment in Affordable Housing program.

The rebate of development charges also pairs with the Town’s other efforts to spur affordable housing projects. These include pre-zoned greenfield lands for a mix of housing, which includes single, semi-detached, and town homes, as well as zoning for multiple residential and secondary units. The Town’s Community Improvement Plans also offer $5,000 grants for the creation of an affordable rental dwelling unit in former commercial spaces or existing dwellings within CIP project areas.

Under the plan, the property tax revenue from the new housing developments would cover the costs of the development charge rebate, with a full payback period of four to five years.