Inclusionary housing programs are municipal programs that rely upon the development regulations and approval process to have private developers provide some portion of the housing within their new market projects as affordable housing.
The policies represent a fundamentally different way to providing affordable housing from the conventional social housing programs used to date in Canada. While not all affordable housing programs are the same, in the main they adhere to the following characteristics:
- providing housing affordable on a permanent basis to a wider mix of incomes in all new residential developments and, thereby, a more affordable range of housing across the entire community.
- engaging the private developers to build and provide the units at a price or rent well below what the market would otherwise provide.
- establishing fixed and non-negotiable rules regarding the affordable housing obligation so that all developers are treated in a consistent and equitable way.
- relying on concessions available through the regulatory process (like density bonuses and fee rebates) – and not financial subsidies – to reduce the cost burden on the developers for providing the affordable housing.
The Wellesley Institute identified Inclusionary Housing and Inclusionary Zoning as tools that can be used to increase the supply of affordable housing in its Blueprint to End Homeless in 2007.
About the Working Group
The Inclusionary Housing Working Group was a project of the Wellesley Institute. The Wellesley Institute became interested in the possibilities of using municipal planning and regulatory powers to increase the supply of affordable housing while working on the Blueprint to End Homelessness in Toronto.
In June of 2008, Wellesley Institute hosted a forum called Planning for Inclusive Neighbourhoods. More than 100 people gathered at the Sutton Place hotel to hear about how inclusionary zoning works in the US and what might be useful in the Canadian context.
Following the forum, a group of activists, policy-makers and planners began meeting to gain a better understanding of Inclusionary Housing and to begin the process of having municipalities use this tool to increase the supply of affordable housing.
Click here for a guide to inclusionary housing by planning expert Richard Drdla.