Why We Need a Federal Affordable Housing Strategy

There is no doubt that access to adequate housing is a critical in our community, this is why it remains a top priority for Kingston City Council.

As we look to create more affordable housing options in Kingston we are also looking at opportunities to revitalize existing housing. Take for example our long term plan to revitalize the Rideau Heights neighbourhood. This revitalization project will move us away from the outdated 1960s model of large blocks of social housing to an integrated approach of affordable units across the city.

Of course, the creation and revitalization of affordable housing requires investment, not just municipal investment. This funding, historically, has been shared between all levels of government. The need for a long term approach to affordable housing from the federal government was presented to Council in a special meeting held last week.

In the graph below, presented at the meeting, the green line shows the funding required to maintain our existing affordable housing units which is projected to increase over time. The blue bars reflect the annual projected subsidy from the federal government over the next 20 years. As you can see, not only are we expected to see a substantial increase in costs but also a significant drop in federal funding. If a new national program is not introduced, meaning no funding from the federal government, the city would be left with an enormous funding gap. Even if we injected more money into affordable housing, the federal funding gap is way beyond our financial capacity as a city.

chart - affordable housing growing costs, declining funding

This situation is not unique to Kingston, cities across Canada face the same downward funding issue. The City is ready to work together with the federal government to realize the social and economic benefits of making progress on this important issue. I join my municipal colleagues in calling on the federal government to work with us to develop and implement a new national affordable housing strategy that reinvests in existing housing stock, tackles repairs and commits to long-term funding. We have made affordable housing a priority and continue to do our part, but we can’t do it alone.

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