Housing Availability

This section looks at the physical stock of both private market and affordable housing in Niagara. These assets are the community's strengths that will be built on in the future to meet housing needs. Consideration of housing stock is important because it has implications for the overall operations of the housing market. For example, when supply of rental housing is scarce (due to conversion, demolition, and lack of new construction), vacancy rates can be pushed down and rent levels can be pushed up. When the housing stock is very old, and not enough new construction is occurring, there is a greater risk of housing scarcity and/or housing that is in poor condition.

Types of Dwellings

4.1 Structural Type of Dwelling by Tenure

Source: Statistics Canada, 2011 National Household Survey

The majority of dwellings in Niagara are single detached houses and the vast majority of these are owned. Most rented units are single detached homes as well in addition to apartments.

Dwelling Construction

4.2 Period of Dwelling Construction by Housing Tenure

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census and 2011 National Household Survey

In Niagara 40% of dwellings were constructed at least 50 years ago. While the construction of owned dwellings has been increasing since 1991 the construction of rental dwellings has declined, largely because the cost of development vs the return on investment makes construction of new rental housing less attractive than other options, such as condominiums. As a result, the age of our rental stock is growing and without sufficient new supply, availability and affordability of rental housing in the future is at risk.

The number of housing starts in Niagara between 2009-2013 was 5,415. In Ontario there were 316,451 starts. While Niagara's population makes up roughly 3.4 per cent of the population in Ontario Niagara only accounts for 1.7 per cent of housing starts (Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation: Housing and Market Information)

As for the existing stock, as it ages, the need for capital expenditures increases. For private sector rental housing, the cost of capital work can be passed on into the rent, making it less affordable. For publically supported rental housing, the ability to pass on the cost of capital work in the rent is very limited, meaning that costs are incurred by taxpayers.

Gains and Losses in Rental Housing, 2006 - 2011

 Gains: There were 643 apartment units constructed in Niagara.
 Loses: 0 demolished apartments
 Potential Loses: 1097 rental apartment units have been approved for conversion to  condominiums.
 Net loss over past five years: 643-1097= a net loss of 454 units

Source: Integrated Community Planning; Development Services: iDarts; Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

A decline in construction is not the only concern when it comes to maintaining a healthy level of rental apartments in Niagara. Between 2006 and 2011 there has been a net loss in rental apartments as a result of their conversion to condominiums.

Condition of Housing Stock

4.3 Condition of Housing Stock in Niagara

Source: Statistics Canada, 2011 National Household Survey

The majority of dwellings are in good condition requiring only regular or minor repairs. Regular repair refers to "painting, furnace cleaning, etc." (Statistics Canada, 2006 Census). However, 10% of rental units are in need of major repair, which refers to "defective plumbing or electrical wiring, structural repairs to walls, floors or ceilings, etc." (Statistics Canada, 2006 Census). With limited supply of new housing stock, it is important to maintain current stock to ensure it remains in adequate living condition.

Affordable Housing Stock

4.4 Number of Affordable Housing Units by Municipality

Source: Niagara Regional Housing

In Niagara there are over 7,500 units of affordable housing. The majority of units are provided by not-for-profit housing providers and co-ops or owned directly by Niagara Regional Housing.

Rent supplement program, rent is subsidized in privately owned buildings through an agreement with Niagara Regional Housing. Tenants in the Rent Supplement program pay a rent that is based on their income. Niagara Regional Housing supplements the tenant's rent by paying the landlord the difference between the rent paid by the tenant and the full market rent for the unit.

Housing allowance program: A short term program that provides a set allowance to landlords to assist tenants with rent. The Housing Allowance Program was designed as a temporary measure to help households meet their monthly rental obligations until they can be housed in a permanent rent-geared-to-income unit.

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