Waterloo supporting several projects to provide affordable housing in the region
The Waterloo regional council has approved several funding projects to help develop affordable housing projects in the region.
In early March, two municipal grants were approved for YW Kitchener-Waterloo and OneROOF Youth Services to begin developing affordable housing and to help offset some cost of development charges.
YW K-W is set to receive a grant of $650,383 for a 41-unit development and OneROOF has been approved for a $713,835 grant for a 45-unit development.
The Region of Waterloo is also accepting proposals for projects that would generate new affordable housing units and repair existing units.
A total of $5,665,653 is available for the project proposals, with $2,665,653 being provided through the Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiative (COCHI) and the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative (OPHI) and the other $3,000,000 available through regional funding.
“All these things are happening at the same time. The idea is [we’re] doing all of these things really intentionally, we’ll get another 500 units per year built. So, these are all little pieces of that 500 per year puzzle,” said Elizabeth Clarke, Regional councillor and CEO of YW K-W.
In December 2020, the regional council also approved another $8.2 million in grants to invest in affordable housing, as part of the rapid housing initiative by the federal government.
The private market is simply never going to build affordable housing because they’re never going to be able to make a profit building affordable housing. It needs to be [done by the] not-for-profit and public sector.Elizabeth Clarke, regional councillor and CEO of YW K-W
Clarke said the federal government’s rapid housing initiative granted YW-KW $6.8 million in federal funding to build modular housing that could be up and running in less than a year.
“We’re putting it together with the $600,000 in regional funding, and with some land that we’re being given on a long term lease by the city of Kitchener.”
“So, all of this stuff has been a year of planning, but all of these things have just come together in the last three or four months to make it actually possible for us to go forward,” Clarke said.
In order to ensure affordability, YW K-W will rent at 30 per cent of the tenant’s income.
“Usually, affordable housing is defined as 80 per cent or less of whatever the market rent is. So, if the market rent for a one-bedroom unit is $1,000, then an affordable unit would be $800 or less. But we’ve taken affordability one step further to make it geared to income,” Clarke said.
As one of the fastest growing regions in Ontario, KW has become a high-demand area — a large factor that contributes towards the unaffordability of housing.
Clarke said it is important for the different levels of government to get involved in funding affordable housing.
“Our project, I think, is a really good example of the different levels of government coming together, because we have the federal government contributing money for the actual build,” Clarke said. “We have the city of Kitchener government contributing land, we have the region contributing a grant for the development charges and we have a not for profit that’ll be doing the actual construction and operation.”
“The private market is simply never going to build affordable housing because they’re never going to be able to make a profit building affordable housing. It needs to be [done by the] non-for-profit and public sector.”