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Vacant home tax aims to protect Hamilton’s affordable housing stock

Hamilton city councillors have taken the first step towards creation of a vacant home tax, as a way addressing an affordable housing crisis. Global News

City councillors have taken the first step towards creation of a vacant home tax in Hamilton, as a way of increasing the local supply of affordable housing.

The general issues committee on Monday, and pending Hamilton City Council approval, voted to ask staff to prepare a draft bylaw which would go out for public consultation before it is implemented, possibly in early 2022.

Hamilton is following the lead of Toronto and Ottawa, both of which are considering a 1 per cent tax on the value of an empty residential home.

Read more: City report recommends tax on vacant Toronto homes

“We have to take steps to provide more housing units in our community”, said Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

Karl Andrus, representing the Hamilton Community Benefits Network, was among several residents who spoke to councillors in support of the tax during Monday’s meeting.

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“I implore you to use the tools you have before you to put more units back in the market”, said Andrus, “stop incentivizing gentrification and landlords keeping properties empty.”

Read more: Hamilton now third least affordable housing market in North America, according to study

“The vacant homes tax could discourage landlords from residential units vacant”, agreed Darlene Wesley with the tenant advocacy group ACORN, “and any money raised could go towards affordable housing, which Hamilton needs desperately.”

City staff estimate the annual cost of the program, including the hiring of eight staff, at between $1 million and $1.3 million, but revenues are estimated at between $800,000 and $1.6 million and could offset the cost.

Click to play video: 'Protesters demand defunding police in front of Hamilton city hall' Protesters demand defunding police in front of Hamilton city hall
Protesters demand defunding police in front of Hamilton city hall – Nov 23, 2020

 

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