Falling Back into Rhythm

I love housing, so much so, I believe every person has the human right to live in one. From tiny homes at 600 sq ft to monster mansions at 6,000 sq ft. Every person has the right to have a safe space they call their own.

My passion has not wavered, but moving my family, helping friends and supporting BLM, I have been distracted. Let us fall back into rhythm (while continuing to help others) and pick up where we left off for safe affordable housing in the City of Kitchener.

There have been meetings and presentations on the next steps of the Affordable Housing Strategy in the City of Kitchener. Let’s dive in and discuss what our city’s next steps should be.

Presentation

City of Kitchener Housing Strategy

Social Development Centre Waterloo Region presented by Aleksandra Petrovic.

Presentation to the Development Committee on Sept 10 2020

Reported Challenges

31% Cost

24% Not Enough (Supply)

11% Location

Strategy to Meet Challenges

450 units of transitional and/or supportive housing

5,000 units of community housing

9,300 new affordable rental housing units under $1300/month for household incomes under $63,000 per year.

Implementation

Policies (IZ inclusionary zoning)

Development Approval Process (Incentives, Fees, Development Charges)

Surplus City Lands (Tiny Homes, Lease and Land Trusts, Re purpose of Public Buildings)

Advocacy (Provincial & Federal Funding, Provincial Housing Strategy)

Other options to discuss

Discussion

Inclusionary Zoning – it is a tiny step, but it’s a must. Although there is an anticipation to see new developments calm in a few years we must consciously make affordable housing mandatory from now on. But in reality, its a very small step. Affordable housing through inclusionary zoning, so far, has a expiration date. Nevermind IZ only make a small amount of units affordable in a new development. I believe currently there are less than 10 units being built through IZ in new developments throughout the whole city. 10! That’s it! As well as, after ten years they will not be affordable anymore.

Depending on the Private Sector to fill the gaps – this was a hot topic at the Development Committee Meeting and I agree. It is insanity if you believe that a for profit company is going to decide to make affordable housing instead of luxury condos. Why would they do that? Saying that the private sector will fill the gaps is Council’s way of washing their hands clean of the situation.

Defining Affordability vs Attainable Housing – Affordable is when your housing costs less than 30% of your household income. Attainable is 80% of the market value. Attainable is a nice discount but when you are discussing our current real estate market, those definitions are no where close and should not be used synonymously.

For example, if we want less pressure on our current affordable housing system and would like to have more families or people on the rental market, there needs to be housing that is 30% of a full time minimum wage worker. That’s approx $700/month. There is nothing in Waterloo Region, outside of subsidy, that allows a family to live for $700/month or less. Do we realize that there isn’t an incentive for people to re-enter the workforce? Shouldn’t someone working be allowed to pay for housing?

Vacancy Tax – This is a big game changer and should be the forefront of the Housing Strategy. When you have a housing shortage, condos and houses should not be allowed to stay empty. Either you rent it out as an investment or you live in it. I want numbers on what is empty and what is filled. I know what friends say who live in DTK condos. That they only know one building neighbour or a few. That the building doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to capacity. But I would like facts and a vacancy tax implemented.

Lease and Land Trusts – I will close out on my dream for the City of Kitchener, that it will have land trusts implemented throughout the city. Instead of going $6 million over budget for a facelift for City Hall, I would have used taxpayers money to purchase old factories, office buildings, and develop unused land into Lease or Land Trusts where the City of Kitchener purchases the land, and leases it so a citizen can build a house on it. Later, the citizen can sell their house. The new homeowner would only ever own the house, therefore the cost of housing would be significantly less because the land will always be owned by the city. I feel this will be the only way to ensure we do not hollow out our city and kill the middle class in the City of Kitchener. We need to help people stay off of the streets but we can only do so by relieving the stress on the system with the bottleneck of affordable ownership. Lease and Land Trusts give us the opportunity for permanent affordable ownership.

Do you know that City of Kitchener City Council is having a meeting about the Affordable Housing Strategy next week? Specifically discussing Inclusionary Zoning.

Monday, September 28, 2020 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m

https://calendar.kitchener.ca/council/Detail/2020-09-28-1630-Planning-amp-Strategic-Initiatives-Committee-Part-

Take a look at the agenda (start on page 73) and attend to hear what council votes on. Or better yet, read the report and email your councilor beforehand and let them know your opinion on inclusionary zoning.

https://lf.kitchener.ca/WeblinkExt/0/doc/1867492/Page1.aspx?_ga=2.184993121.934875664.1600818128-1596862955.1575125335

What’s your opinion? How do you see the City of Kitchener surviving? Please comment below and let’s continue the discussion!

Kelly-Ann Callaghan

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