Photo: James Bombales

With municipal elections just around the corner, GTA residents are starting to consider which issues could make or break their vote in October. One topic on everyone’s mind? Housing affordability, or a distinct lack of it.

Almost 40 per cent of GTA residents name the cost of housing as one of their top-three election issues, according to a new Ipsos poll commissioned by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB).

“Residents of the GTA are concerned about housing affordability and availability,” writes BILD president and CEO Dave Wilkes, in a statement. “People are concerned about where young families and first-time home buyers will live, or if they will be able to afford to live in the GTA at all.”

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The issue is more pressing for some residents than others. Almost half of Millennial respondents (48 per cent) listed housing affordability as a key election issue, compared to just 25 per cent of respondents 55 and over. Similarly, 62 per cent of renters were concerned, while just 26 per cent of homeowners were.

“When you look at people who own their homes, they’re less worried about it,” BILD SVP of communications Justin Sherwood tells Livabl. “But those looking to get into the housing market are feeling both the challenge of being able to afford a downpayment, and the impact of high rent.”

While homeowners might be less concerned about their own housing costs, up to 67 per cent of respondents felt that their children would be unable to afford a home in the community they grew up in.

From Sherwood’s perspective, government has too long focused on the demand side of the equation — with the implementation of policy like the foreign buyer tax in the spring of 2017 — while ignoring a lack of supply.

“For a number of years the building industry has been saying we have a supply problem in the GTA,” says Sherwood. “Affordability is a complex issue, and to date most government intervention has focused on the demand side. We hope that this data will push municipalities to think about the kind of steps they could take to positively impact the supply of housing in the GTA.”

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