Kitchener Housing Strategy Draft
Requested response to the Kitchener Housing Strategy Draft and Focus Group provided by the City of Kitchener’s Engagement and Program Manager Andrew Ramsaroop
Link to the Kitchener Housing Strategy draft here.
Thank you for taking the time to do small focus group meetings to discuss the CoK Housing Strategy. Our housing crisis needs to be solved. It should have been solved years ago, but either way, here we are. I noted in your draft the priorities and what city council wants to see solved. I remember that meeting last winter, every Councillor wanted to see the end of visible homelessness. But very few, if any, discussed fixing this at the heart of the issue. Affordable Ownership. We need to turn off the tap to end homelessness. We need to stop the pressure the housing market has created, that will allow us to fix everyone’s issues long term and most importantly keep people off of the streets.
Pulling the statistics from your draft, it is 450 units of transitional and supportive housing, 5,000 units of community housing and 9,300 new affordable rental housing units that are needed in our current housing crisis. The largest number of people in need are in the affordable rental market. If Land Trusts were made more of a priority, and affordable ownership an option for current renters, that would naturally help solve the whole spectrum of the housing crisis. The renters who could qualify for a mortgage of less than $200,000 would build a starter home on city owned land, those rental units would become available and, in theory, the rental market pricing would devalue as supply rose. More people would be able to afford to rent, save and stay housed and not depend on the non for profits/transitional housing/emergency housing. This would be a long term investment, but it wouldn’t be a constant drain on the City of Kitchener’s Income Statements, compared to if the City had to build and maintain affordable rental buildings. With Land Trusts, the land would most likely increase in value over the long term investment and add to the City’s portfolio. When the Affordable Owners wanted to upgrade to a larger space, they would sell their home but the land would stay the City’s and therefore it would always be affordable compared to the housing market. I feel this option needs to be heavily suggested and explained to the City Council. They need to understand that although it is not their “jurisdiction”, if they want to see the end of visible homelessness they need to solve it at the core. They need to invest in their voters and create a safe space for our city to thrive.
On a separate note, I wanted to thank you for wanting to look into investment housing and better understand what is vacant and what is occupied. If we do not have these facts we are trying to make solutions with a blindfold on.
Thank you for all of your hardwork, I know many people unknowingly depend on it and I hope you feel the gratification in knowing you will help thousands.