Affordable housing debate in Barrie

News source from CTV News

A debate is brewing at Barrie’s city hall over the definition of affordable housing.

Two definitions have resulted in two different realities for low-income earners looking for a place to call home.

The Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness spoke at a public meeting on Monday night and asked for more affordable housing.

The city has a goal of adding 840 affordable housing units by 2024, saying it has already created more than 400.

But the alliance says there are flaws with the way the city calculates what qualifies as affordable housing.

“We want to make sure that we are using the definition of affordable housing units as defined by the province, county and city, and that we’re not moving the goal posts,” said Jennifer Van Gennip.

Part of the city and province’s definition of affordable housing is a home with rent that is less than 30 percent of the household income for low to moderate earners.

In Barrie, however, the household income is calculated based on the median of the city’s population, not just low and moderate.

“I think that there were a number of important points that were raised, and certainly we’re going to review those points,” said Andrea Bourrie, City of Barrie.  “If we need to make any revisions to the definition that we’re currently using, we will do that.”

Mayor Jeff Lehman said there might be a difference of opinion regarding some details, but says, “we do agree with the alliance that the strategy needs to dig deeper to house those at the lowest income levels.”

The current affordable housing strategy in Barrie is four years old, and city staff say they want to review it and plan to update it in the spring.

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