Slessor Square says it is making proper provision for affordable housing in its proposed giant development on Yonge opposite Upper Canada Mall.

They are simply following the provincial definition of affordability. I don’t blame them for that. Not at all.

But how realistic is this definition in York Region – one of the fastest growing areas in Canada?

An “affordable” unit, according to the Province, costs $410,987 or less (as of January 2012).

A home costing that much would mean a monthly outlay (for mortgage and other housing related costs) of $2,727. An “affordable” rental would cost $1,048 per month – but how many of those are on the market? Not too many.

The affordability criteria assumes a maximum household income of $109,000 or less in January 2012  but there are lots of people in York Region who don’t bring in that kind of money.

A new report (Housing Matters: A Review of the Housing Market in York region 2012) throws a spotlight on the challenges facing this part of Ontario.

You can access the whole PDF report here by scrolling to D3 on the agenda of the York Region Planning and Economic Development Committee of 2 May 2012.

The report tells us that increases in house prices have outpaced increases in incomes.

From 2002 to 2010 median wages (the point mid way between the highest and the lowest) increased by approximately 20 per cent, whereas the cost of ownership housing increased by approximately 56 per cent. 

Many households are now spending way more than 30 per cent of their gross household income on housing. (30% or less is supposed to be the measure of affordability.)

It seems to me the definition of affordability is pie-in-the-sky.

We need a new one, more in tune with what is happening in the real world.