Sunday, July 12, 2020

Encouraging the development of affordable housing in C-K

Faced with the “growing unmet demand for more affordable housing” in Chatham-Kent for low-to-moderate income households, Municipal officials say it is in the Municipality’s best interest to increase the number and type of affordable housing options available in the community.

“Adopting policies that encourage proponents to seek out opportunities to add affordable housing in the Municipality is an important step and salient message to potential developers,” said Shelley Wilkins, director of housing services, in a report, which is set to be in front of Chatham-Kent Council at their Monday, June 1, 2020 meeting.

“Housing supply is in a critical state across the Province. While it may be more acute in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area because of the sheer numbers, at an individual household level it is very much the same pain and frustration. Chatham-Kent must be as proactive as it can to encourage the development of affordable housing, maintaining an equilibrium of housing supply across the housing continuum.”

Wilkins said Chatham-Kent Housing Services has delivered and administered the development of new affordable housing projects since 2006, when the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing first introduced come federal-provincial funding programs.

Wilkins said to date, contribution agreements with proponents have been executed for 14 projects in 14 years, with a total of 168 units.

“At the same time, a number of factors have converged, not unlike the rest of southern
Ontario, to result in a growing waitlist of rent-geared-to-income applicant households,” Wilkins said in her report.

“At December 31, 2019 the waitlist stood at 1,020 households,” Wilkins said, adding that 261 (25.6%) are seniors 60+ years old, 268 (26.3%) are families and 491 (48.1%) are non-seniors/no dependents.

“With a declining market rental vacancy rate it has become harder and harder for low income households to find suitable, affordable rental homes. The increase in demand, with the limited rental stock available results in ever increasing average market rents, compounding the difficulty in finding affordable housing. Moreover, a higher and higher number of applications for rent-geared-to-income assistance are being received.”

Wilkins said previous decisions made by Council have adjusted and updated Chatham-Kent’s official plan and comprehensive zoning bylaw.

“The third strategy is to establish specific corporate policies designed to encourage both private for profit and/or private non-profit proponents and developers to create new affordable housing within the Municipality,” Wilkins said in her report.

“This report addresses this third strategy.”

Wilkins said a report created by Vink Consulting, offered a number of recommendations, which were used to develop recommendations for the new Chatham-Kent Community Improvement Plan (CIP), which was adopted at Council’s March 2, 2020 regular meeting.

“The newly approved CIP includes several new incentive programs to further support the development of affordable housing, several of which cover off recommendations in the Vink Report.”

Some of these incentives include:

– Property tax increment equivalent program

– Building and planning fee rebate program

– Development charge partial exemption program

– Residential conversion and affordable housing grant program

To read Wilkins’ full report, click here.

The report will be discussed at Monday’s meeting, which begins at 6 p.m.

A livestream of the electronic meeting will be available at:

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