Two reasons stand in the way of Kitchener councillors and staff pushing ahead with a plan that would provide developers with incentives to build affordable housing:
One involves the very tired suggestion that low-income housing is the total responsibility of regional, not municipal governments. The second is a suggestion Kitchener would need to shell out $90,000 to hire a high-price planner to research any incentive plan.
I have now learned that lower-tier municipalities like Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and the townships or single-tier cities like Toronto, Ottawa and Hamilton are the only bodies allowed to sponsor incentive program. This is because density bonusing that supports such incentives are part of zone-change applications that fall under the control of lower-tier cities like Kitchener.
Also, regional officials who have already done the housing research see little need to hire additional planners to repeat that work.
Based on these facts, I intend to push ahead with a proposal to see low-income housing treated as a high-priority item at Kitchener city hall in the coming months instead of seeing nothing happen for another few years.
I also understand that, unlike Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge are already investigating and moving ahead with incentive pilot projects to create affordable housing.
As I said before in this blog, we seem content to tolerate at least 3,000 names on a regional waiting list for affordable shelter. Those names represent about 10,000 children and adults who, for decades, have been making do with inadequate housing.
And we know that inadequate housing is guaranteed to lead to health, police and numerous other social issues that cost all taxpayers a great deal of money.
Fed up with waiting, I want to see Kitchener lead, not follow, when it comes to increasing the supply of low-income housing and helping combat homelessness.