Region commits to create 638 new affordable homes over next 10 years

Regional Council has approved plans to create 638 new affordable homes next 10 years on five properties across Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge.

Affordable homes will be built on 5 properties in the region, 3 in Kitchener, 1 in Cambridge and 1 in Waterloo

Region of Waterloo approved plans that would create 638 new affordable homes in the next ten years at a council meeting Wednesday night. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Waterloo Regional council has okayed plans to create 638 new affordable homes in the region over the next 10 years.

The project is part of the Waterloo Region Housing (WRH) master plan that was approved by council Wednesday night.

WRH is operated by the Region of Waterloo and acts as the region's largest community housing provider. It owns and operates more than 2,700 affordable housing units across the region.

Mina Fayez-Bahgat, manager of WRH, said the new affordable homes will be built on five of the region's 65 existing affordable housing properties. 

"WRH went through a process of evaluating all 65 of its communities ... and came up with the top five that would achieve a minimum of 600 new units," he said.

Three of the five properties are located in Kitchener. One is in Cambridge and one is in Waterloo. 

The 638 new affordable units to be built over the next 10 years will contribute to what other affordable units the region gets through developers, Fayez-Bahgat said.

"It's not just that we're creating the 638 additional units, but the other side of the [region's] housing services division will continue to work with the private and non-profit sectors to continue to create its [affordable] units," he said.

Replacing the old with the new

Some older buildings on the five chosen properties will be replaced with newer buildings, Fayez-Bahgat said.

"One of the proposals is to take down a 16 unit, 55-year-old building and replace it with a 50 or 60 unit mixed income affordable housing building," he said.

"Transforming some of our aging buildings will help us address the growing wait list for community housing and the growing number of tenant requests to move to units that better meet their needs."

That's why it could take 10 years to complete.

"It takes a couple of years to go from a plan to actually having an occupancy permit in hand and we don't have the recourses to do it all at once," said Elizabeth Clarke, a regional councillor and chair of region's community services committee.

"We can't have a whole bunch of properties out of commission at the same time while we're building. We have to do it in a staged way so that people have a place to live in the meantime." 


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