Kitchener-Waterloo·Waterloo Region Votes

Housing — from rent to availability to homelessness — top concern for these voters

CBC Kitchener-Waterloo hit the streets to hear from people about their top concerns in this month's municipal election and many people said it's housing — from the high cost of rent to student housing to availability to people who are experiencing homelessness needing help to find shelter.

'It's a worry whether or not I can keep my home, pay my bills,' single mom says

Voter Voices: Liam Healey's top concern is housing

1 year ago
Duration 2:02
CBC K-W spoke to people about their top concerns in October's municipal election. Liam Healey of Waterloo says he’s concerned about housing affordability and availability.

Local politicians need to do more to address the housing needs of people in Waterloo region, many local voters say.

That doesn't mean focus on homelessness, though.

CBC Kitchener-Waterloo stopped people on the street to ask about their top concerns for this month's municipal election, and they say there are a number of issues:

  • Rent costs too much.
  • There's a missing middle of housing that's affordable.
  • There's a lack of student housing.
  • Buying a home is out of reach.
  • There's not enough places to rent or buy.

Of the roughly 375 people who filled out a municipal election survey on the CBC K-W website, 66 per cent listed housing and homelessness as one of their top concerns.

John Clifford of Cambridge says he wants to see better strategies to help people experiencing homelessness in the city.

"It has become an issue in downtown Cambridge and Cambridge in general and it seems like more and more, they're being left to their own," he said.

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"Ways to change that perception would be appreciated, especially in the downtown core as a small business owner, because our goal is to get people down here."

Portrait of a man wearing a ball cap.
John Clifford of Cambridge says he's watched as more people experiencing homelessness have come to seek services in downtown Galt and he'd like to see the city do more to help them. (James Chaarani/CBC)

He said he'd like to see the city and region work with grassroots initiatives to make a real difference.

"It would be nice to find long-term ways to help them and not just quick fixes," he said.

"Every year it seems to be that there's more and more [people experiencing homelessness] coming into this community and there doesn't seem to be the necessary resources to help them to take the step out, instead of just moving them around."

WATCH | Waterloo university student says more could be done to help students find housing: 

Voter Voices: Diyadam Ranasinghe of Waterloo says more student housing is needed

1 year ago
Duration 2:08
CBC K-W asked people for their top concerns in the October municipal election and university student Diyadam Ranasinghe says more could be done to help students find housing.

Costs rising

Julie Ellis, a single mother from Kitchener, cited the high cost of living, particularly in housing, as a top concern. 

"It's a worry whether or not I can keep my home, pay my bills. Winter is coming, I know I'm in an older building at the moment and heating is going to go through the roof, the cost of my mortgage has already gone up. Maintenance fees go up. Everything goes up except for wages," she said.

Portrait of woman in bright blue shirt with trees in background.
Julie Ellis of Kitchener is a single mom with two dependents at home. She says she's worried about the cost of living rising and in particular, the cost to rent or buy a place to live. (James Chaarani/CBC)

She admits she's not sure what local politicians may be able to do about it, but would like to see them work with other levels of government to advocate for rental caps and other ways to make life more affordable.

"I am sitting in a beautiful park today. I am aware that there are some tent homes here. We have a homeless issue in the city," she said.

"If there's anything we can do collectively as a municipality to help those that are struggling — I have three older boys who live independently and all of them are in the same boat. Renting property is outrageously high."

Housing 'a human right'

Jeremy Howcroft of Kitchener says it concerns him to see people having trouble finding shelter and he wants to see council do more to help.

"We really need those folks in those positions that are going to be fighting for housing as a human right, to be able to push against the concept of real estate and housing as an investment, as an income generator. We need to make sure people are housed first before others can necessarily profit off it."

Portrait of a man in hat and glasses.
Jeremy Howcroft of Kitchener says he wants to see politicians listen to everyone when it comes to developing solutions to affordable housing and homelessness. (James Chaarani/CBC)

He said he hopes those who get elected touch base with those in need and hear from people on all sides of the issue.

"As any solution that gets put into place is ultimately going to come through the taxpayer funding it, it's important that the entire community is involved and that the candidates are going to be listening to all voices," he said.

The municipal election is Monday, Oct. 24.