In late 2019, the Town launched a plan to make it possible to subsidize affordable Housing in Cobourg. A seemingly straight forward task, a consultant was hired to report by May 2020 but due to delays caused by Covid-19, the report will finally be approved at Monday’s Council meeting. Affordable housing in this case means affordable rental housing which is generally in short supply in Cobourg, affordable or otherwise. My understanding is that the Plan is required to make it legal for the Town to use Taxpayers money for this purpose. This initiative is being done by the Town despite the fact that the County has responsibility for social services including affordable housing although the plan does talk about working with the County and in accordance with their strategy.
For this report, affordable rental housing is where “annual accommodation costs do not exceed 30% of gross annual household income.”
But as well as affordable housing, the consultant “looked into opportunities to incentivize development of Brownfield areas and developments which address areas of sustainability and accessibility.”
The whole subject of affordable housing is complex since it gets confused with homelessness, transitional housing and affordable home ownership. In fact there is a continuum illustrated by the graphic below.
Of these categories, the CIP only addresses affordable rental housing and permits a wide range of incentives – see the full report in the Links below.
The programs are divided by Priority (primary and secondary focus) and “Areas of Consideration”.
The report includes a table listing the incentives to be available – here is a summarized version:
|Program||Description||Area of Consideration|
|Grant up to 100% of fees||Purpose-built Rental|
|Cash-in-Lieu of Parking Reduction Program||Grant equal to up to 50% of the calculated Cash-in-Lieu of Parking fee||Purpose-built Rental|
|Development Charge Grant Program||Grant equal to a percentage of the Town development charge||Purpose-built Rental|
|Property Tax Increment Grant Program||Grant equal to the incremental increase in municipal property tax assessment for a period of five years||Purpose-built Rental|
|Second Unit Fee Reduction Program||Grant equal to up to 100% of the fees paid||Second Unit/ Coach House|
|Second Unit Renovation and Construction
Grant/ Loan Program
|Grant equal to 50% of eligible costs to homeowners to a maximum of $10,000
A loan equal to 70% of eligible costs to a maximum of $50,000. Minimum $5,000
|Second Unit/ Coach House|
|Program||Description||Area of Consideration|
|Emergency and Transitional Housing
Fee Waiver Program
|Grant equal to up to 100% of the fees paid||Emergency & Transitional Housing|
|Emergency and Transitional Housing Development Charge Grant Program||Grant equal to a percentage of the Town development charge||Emergency & Transitional
|Fee Reduction Program||Grant equal to up to 50% of the fees paid||Affordable Home Ownership|
|Development Charge Grant Program||Grant equal to a percentage of the Town development charge||Affordable Home Ownership|
|Brownfield Redevelopment Grant Program||Grant for costs – most for 50% up to a maximum of $100,000 per property||Brownfield|
|Universal Design Grant/ Loan Program||50% Grant to a maximum grant per property/ project of $10,000
70% Loan to a maximum of $50,000. Minimum loan of $5,000
|Sustainable Design Grant/ Loan Program||50% grant to a maximum of $10,000
70% Loan equal to a maximum loan of $50,000. Minimum loan of $ 5,000
To use the program, Council would first have to allocate a budget amount and then during that budget year, developers or home owners would need to apply.
The plan includes a requirement for monitoring with an annual report to Council. The report would cover a large range of factors indicating success (or otherwise) and “should include an assessment of the financial impact of the CIP to the Town”.
The motion passed in the COW Council meeting to approve the CIP included a requirement for “staff to put together an inventory of potential municipal owned surplus lands, buildings and/or facilities by March 22, 2021 for it to consider as potential support for Section 3.8.8 Donation or Sale of Surplus Lands of the Affordable and Rental Housing Community Improvement Plan”
It’s ironic that a recent report to Council (Service Levels Review) included a suggestion that Planning fees be increased yet many of the above programs suggest waiving some or all of these fees – at least in some cases.
- Download Affordable and Rental Housing Community Improvement Plan – pdf. Labelled DRAFT since it is subject to Council approval which is expected on Monday November 23.
- Development of CIP for affordable Housing Continues – 3 July 2020
- Affordable Housing CIP Public Meeting – 8 December 2019
- Cobourg and Social Services – 3 December 2019 – about the County’s Affordable Housing Strategy