LONDON, Ont. -- A growing number of Londoners find themselves trapped in the middle of the housing crisis - earning too much money to qualify for community housing, but earning too little to pay market-value rent.

So city hall is now considering a city-wide Community Improvement Plan (CIP) to encourage the construction of new affordable housing units.

Travis Macbeth, a planner with city hall, says, “The upfront costs such as development charges and the actual acquisition of land are the biggest barrier to the development of affordable housing units.”

Macbeth’s new planning report recommends city council establish a fund to provide interest-free loans that would cover the up-front costs currently inhibiting affordable housing developments.

Developers building at least five affordable units or homeowners creating a below-market rent granny suite in their house could qualify for a loan from city hall.

They would then have 10 years to repay the loan.

According to city hall, more than 40 percent of renter households cannot afford the average bachelor rent of $859 a month.

The chair of London's Housing Advisory Committee, Betsy Odegaard, says encouraging developers and everyday homeowners to create new affordable units would be an important part of the broader housing strategy.

“It's a huge problem and we need all kinds of people to get involved. We are a community; we need help from everybody - from the development community, from the development side, from the city.”

Macbeth adds the loans would also constitute a municipal contribution to unlock federal housing dollars for local projects.

“In order for the federal government to fund affordable housing projects, they look to have city contributions, and the incentives in the CIP would be the city's contribution to unlock those federal government funds.”

The planning committee will discuss the draft community improvement plan on Monday.

A public meeting will be held at city hall early in the new year.