Peterborough, like other communities across Canada, is facing a severe shortage of affordable housing. According to the 2020 Housing is Fundamental Report published by United Way Peterborough, there are almost 10,000 households in Peterborough for whom the average rents of all apartment types in the city are unaffordable.
All three levels of government have made commitments to increase the availability of affordable housing in the city. Peterborough Currents is tracking the progress made on this issue in the chart below. We’ll update this page with new information as it becomes available.
How many new affordable units do we need?
In 2020, the City and County of Peterborough released targets for building new affordable housing units as part of the 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan. According to the plan, the City of Peterborough will need an additional 2,964 affordable units (with varying degrees of affordability) by 2029.
While the municipality has an important role to play in reaching these targets, a collaborative approach is needed. “Housing unit targets are not solely the responsibility of the City of Peterborough to develop,” the City states on its website. “The Housing and Homelessness Plan identifies roles for private sector development, non-profit partners, and units that could be developed through the regeneration of existing Community Housing properties, through such organizations as Peterborough Housing Corporation.”
We’re including any project that was occupied by tenants after summer 2019, as well as any that are planned for the future.
A project is included if it is receiving public funding or financing and if there are any limitations on how high rent can be.
The above criteria are broad, and that means that not all of the projects included are equally affordable. Our definitions below the chart will help you understand the different affordability requirements of each project.
Affordable Housing Progress Tracker
Our Affordable Housing Progress Tracker was last updated on December 11, 2020. At that time, Peterborough Currents had identified a total of 229 units either recently occupied or officially announced for the future.
Do you know of an additional project that should be included? Or do you have questions about any of the projects in the chart? Get in touch with us.
Not all of the projects in the above chart are equally affordable. That is partly because there is no widely-accepted definition of “affordable,” and different government programs have different requirements for how affordable a funded project must be. These definitions can help you parse the above chart.
In an RGI unit, rent is calculated as a proportion of the tenant’s income. The proportion is usually 30 percent, which is in line with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) definition of affordability. This is a significant commitment to affordability — it means a tenant can afford their housing no matter how little income they make or how hot the housing market gets.
In Peterborough, there are about 1,600 RGI units available. As of February 2020, there were 1,384 people on the waitlist for RGI housing. The wait for a one-bedroom apartment is the longest, and can take eight years or more, according to the City.
By design, any RGI unit in the city is affordable for anyone who rents it.
Average Market Rent (AMR)
AMR is a measure of the average rent currently being paid for a particular kind of rental unit in a community. The CMHC provides AMR data for every community in the country each year. In Peterborough, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment as of October 2019 was $942, for example.
AMR is important because many affordable housing developments are required to set their rents as a proportion of AMR. The newest apartments in Peterborough Housing Corporation’s Malcolm Court development, for example, are required to have rents that are 80 percent of AMR.
The cost of renting tends to go up each year — and that means AMR goes up too. But once a lease is signed, that tenant’s rent is governed by provincial rent controls, which mean they generally rise more slowly than AMR. When a unit turns over and a new tenant moves in, the rent can be raised to realign with AMR.
In Peterborough, a one-bedroom apartment with rent set at 80 percent of AMR would be affordable to an individual who makes $29,920, or just more than an annual income working full time at minimum wage.
Rental Construction Financing Initiative (RCFI)
The RCFI is a program of the federal government that provides low-cost loans to developers to build new rental housing. It is one component of the National Housing Strategy. In Peterborough, only one RCFI project has been officially announced but at least one other is being pursued.
The RCFI has its own particular affordability requirements.
First, an RCFI project’s average rental income must be 10 percent lower than what it could achieve in the open market. But this requirement only applies to the first tenants in the building; after the first leases are signed, a landlord can increase rents (in accordance with any provincial or municipal rent controls).
Secondly, 20 percent of units in an RCFI project must have rents that are 30 percent below the median total income for all families in the area. In Peterborough, this works out to rent of a little more than $2,000 per month (there is no stipulation as to what kind of units these need to be). This second requirement lasts a little bit longer than the first — it needs to stay in place for at least ten years.
In Peterborough, a one-bedroom apartment regulated by the long-term requirements of the RCFI would be affordable to an individual or family who makes $84,100 per year.