Housing shortage crisis prompts call for action

House prices in Simcoe County have risen to record numbers, making the dream of owning a home practically impossible for first-time homebuyers, spurring the Ontario Homebuilders' Association (OHBA) to stop in Barrie Tuesday to speak with locals about the current market.

"If we can't a solve the issue, it can only get worse," said Bob Schickedanz, OHBA president.

According to the association, the province needs to build at least one million homes to meet the growing demand.

It said that to accelerate construction and grow the inventory of homes, "red tape" would have to be cut.

"Without the planning approvals, without the infrastructure and without the people to build it we can't build the homes that we need," said Schickedanz.

He noted that the infrastructure and skilled tradespeople are needed now more than ever to help address the housing issue.

Over the last few years, Simcoe County has seen a spike in both the number of homes sold and the final selling price.

However, in recent months, the market has begun to shift.

Barrie realtor John Weber explained the reason for the shift is because inventory had grown slightly.

"Three years ago, pre-COVID, we had four to five months of inventory, and right now, we're lucky if we have one month of inventory. But a year and a half ago, in the middle of COVID, we were 10 days of inventory," the Royal Lepage Barrie realtor said.

Over that time, many locals have been priced out of the market.

Jill Procter moved to the Barrie area a decade ago to pursue a career, and since then, she's been saving to purchase her first home.

"I work full time and two part-time jobs just to try to save up, and I've accepted that I'll probably never own a home. It's a sad state to be in," said Procter.

She said she contemplated leaving Simcoe County, but with her career in Barrie, her options are limited. Instead, she's hopeful something will change.

"The increase of rent and the increase of buying a home, that foreseeable future of ever owning is nearly impossible," she said.

The OHBA plans to continue its tour of the 27 regional associations to get a better understanding of the local issues and how all levels of government can help address the housing issue.