Kitchener planners will this year continue to build a new incentive-bonus plan designed to boost the local supply of affordable housing.
Working closely with regional government as well as Waterloo and Cambridge officials, the program will offer developers a smorgasboard of incentives that could help increase construction of low-income homes.
I’m told the plan — focused on future LRT station areas — could be done without additional cost to the 2015 budget currently being considered by councillors who recently identified low-income housing as one of 12 priority work items. Some councillors, including yours truly, identified affordable-housing as part of their recent election platforms.
Kitchener staff are now completing a report that will recommend the city research the incentive-bonus housing plan to see how it is used by other municipalities. To avoid hiring a $65,000-plus consultant, I’m hoping a planning student will work on the proposal in combination with a city planner.
Despite the fact many people believe regional government is totally responsible for affordable housing, 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 programs because density bonusing comes under their control.
I intend to continue to advocate to have subsidized housing treated as a high-priority item because local councils share the responsibility for easing a situation where the Region has had 3,000 names on a waiting list for affordable shelter. Those names represent at least 8,000 children and adults who, for decades, have made do with inadequate housing.
I also believe that inadequate housing and homelessness results in health, police and social issues that, every year, are costing all of us millions of wasted dollars.