At the May 11th Regional Council committee of the whole, council will discuss the "Affordable Housing Framework: Building a Better Future for All". I have outlined some of the main issues from the staff report (begins on page 61 of the agenda).
Firstly, the report states that more work must be done in order to provide the much needed affordable housing in our region: "The growing need for affordable housing has highlighted the importance of strategic Regional investments to create housing stability and achieve affordability for all. The amount of affordable housing within the Region of Waterloo is currently inadequate and addressing this issue is a major focus of Council."
Staff note that this work can't be done alone: "Region staff has been working collaboratively with area municipalities, housing and service providers, and the development community to identify sites and resources that will maximize the number of new affordable and supportive homes created through the Framework."
And addressing the housing crisis requires a multi-pronged approach. Staff believe this approach could involve: the creation of an affordable housing land portfolio (where the Region leverages lands they own for the development of affordable housing); a "Requests for Proposals Plan"; and an annual "plan to facilitate the engagement of Regional Council, community members, those we serve, and our partners in realizing the vision and meeting the objectives in the Framework.
This 5 year strategy seeks to create 2500 new affordable homes by 2026. In order to achieve that goal, the next steps, as outlined in the report, include:
• secure the right staff team to implement the Framework;
• Develop a community engagement plan;
• Complete site readiness assessments of existing Regionally-owned lands; and
• Finalize the elements of a land acquisition and disposition strategy.
This approach prioritizes people experiencing homelessness for housing based on their
needs and preferences using the Region’s coordinated access system. Staff believe that such an approach "enables targeted, multi-pronged approaches to supporting people into stable housing."
Staff note that affordable housing options should be paired with support measures which "promotes recovery from homelessness and longer-term housing stability. There is an urgent and growing need for housing support funding to address the unmet support needs of people experiencing homelessness in the region."
The report states that consistent provincial funding is essential to offering all of the needed services and supports. From the report: "As a social determinant of health, housing is foundational to promoting a healthy community for all. While affordable homes are essential in achieving this vision, the need for directed and sustained health funding for housing supports through the provincial government is vital to the ability of the Region and partners to end homelessness."
The report outlines the $20 million capital funding (2021-2022) for affordable housing here:
The committee of the whole meeting is May 11th, beginning at 9am. You can watch the live webcast here.