Developers may receive incentives in Kitchener affordable housing plan

The City of Kitchener is considering financial incentives for developers who include affordable housing in their future building plans

Local definition of affordable housing may also be considered

The City of Kitchener will consider offering financial incentives to make building affordable housing easier.

Brandon Sloan, the city's manager of long range and policy planning, believes a proposed incentive plan would make it easier for developers and nonprofit groups to build affordable housing.

"What we're trying to do in Kitchener is focus that intensification of new growth in certain areas,"said Sloan. "Mixed use nodes and transit corridors. Areas served by transit or there's a grocery store or shopping centre close by."

The Kitchener incentive plan includes:

  • Reduced parking requirements to make it easier and more cost-effective for affordable housing providers to construct and build a residence.
  • Density bonusing would allow a developer to build a few floors or units of affordable housing, in exchange for the chance to add additional floor space or floors in a development.
  • A property tax increment program which phases in the taxes over a 5- or 10-year period for an affordable housing site, which reduces the ongoing cost.
  • Exemptions for not-for-profit and charitable organizations so they don't need to pay planning application and building permit fees.
  • Delaying the due date of development charges which makes it easier for an affordable housing provider to finance the cost of the development.

Sloan, who will continue the affordable housing discussion with the Region of Waterloo, said it may be more cost-effective for the city to develop its own definition of what's considered affordable housing.

The provincial definition of affordable affordable housing relies on the average income and market rent for an area, which for Kitchener works out to $1,250 a month for rent.

Kitchener is following the city of Cambridge, which recently approved an affordable housing plan.