By Emily from JvN/d

Housing in Hamilton is becoming increasingly unaffordable.

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, rents in Hamilton have increased by an average of 2.5 per cent every year over the past decade. In the past year alone, rents increased by 5 per cent to an average of $967 per month. A low vacancy rate means that local renters are competing for fewer, more expensive apartments.

Recently released data from Statistics Canada’s Canadian Income Survey and the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington shows that incomes in the region have remained stable over the past decade while the price of a detached home increased by 40 per cent. Average home prices rose by 20 percent in the past year alone, up from $446,961 in 2015 to $535,520 in 2016. For many Hamiltonians, buying a home seems like an impossible dream.

Even those who purchased their homes years ago and have paid off their mortgages are struggling. For example, seniors living on fixed incomes find it difficult to afford the rising property taxes on their homes. When real estate agents come knocking, many people decide to cash in and sell their homes. Surely, $300,000 is an amazing offer for a home that cost $70,000 when it was purchased decades ago! But often times, when these sellers look for comparable properties elsewhere in Hamilton, they find that home prices have risen in neighbourhoods across the city. Priced out of Hamilton, many people are moving to St. Catherine’s, Brantford, or Grimsby. It can be painful to move far away, separated from family, friends, and familiar social supports.

JvN/d: Making homeownership accessible to more Hamiltonians

Led by architect and urban planner John van Nostrand (born and raised in Hamilton), JvN/d is a housing development company that aims to address Hamilton’s housing needs and make homeownership accessible to a wider range of people. Through JvN/d, home ownership is possible for households earning $30,000 per year and up. We have purchased a property in the North End at 468 James Street North with the goal of developing a mixed-income condominium building.

We offer flexible architectural and financial ways of achieving ownership:

  • help navigating the mortgage approvals process
  • down payment assistance
  • creative ownership options (purchase a unit with family or friends)
  • sweat equity options (purchase a partially unfinished unit for a lower price and do some of the construction yourself)
  • live and rent unit options (buy a unit, divide it, live in half, and rent out the other half to supplement your income)
  • alternative unit layouts (to accommodate groups of adults sharing, families sharing, or people using home as a work place and a residence)
  • unit flexibility (option for your unit to grow or shrink over time as you get married, have children, or age in place)

A changing housing economy in the North End

Many changes are expected in the North End in the coming years. The James Street Go Station will soon be offering full-day service to Toronto. The West Harbour plan for Piers 7 and 8 will bring major commercial and residential development to the waterfront. Several developments are also proposed for properties along James Street North, including Indwell’s new building at 500 James and JvN/d’s new building at 468 James. The character of the neighbourhood is changing as individual homes across the neighbourhood are put up for sale, older residents move out, and new residents move in. In the longer term, the provincial government projects that the neighbourhood’s population will grow from 10,200 people (2016) to 26,200 people (2041).

How will these newcomers be accommodated? How can displacements of existing North Enders be prevented? How can the neighbourhood remain affordable for all? Large-scale developments (like West Harbour) and mid-scale developments (like JvN/d’s building at 468 James Street North) will provide housing for some. But individual homeowners also have the opportunity to become small-scale developers and housing providers. For example, a homeowner might add a rental unit to her property by renovating her basement, building an addition, building a granny flat in her backyard, or splitting her home’s floors into multiple units. This rental unit would supplement her income, help her pay off her mortgage, and enable her to afford to stay in the North End, while at the same time adding to the neighbourhood’s rental stock and providing housing for someone in need.

If you are interested in learning how your property is zoned and the potential for you to build a rental unit on your property, you can visit Home: Front (located at 468 James Street North) to view our 3D computer model of the North End. This free tool allows you to zoom in to your property, view the zoning envelope for your property, and play around to see what kind of building is permitted on your property and an estimate of the associated costs.

Upcoming events at Home: Front

Home Buying 101
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 6:30pm
A free learning session on the home-buying and home-financing process, hosted by JvN/d and our financing partner, DUCA Credit Union.

November Neighbourhood Consultation
Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at 6:30pm
Every month we hold a meeting to provide updates to the community on our progress on the development at 468 James Street North. Come out to learn more about our affordable home ownership options and to provide your feedback on our plans for the new building.