February 27, 2020 –
“Kingston has a housing affordability crisis which must be addressed by increasing supply,” the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Report confirms.
On March 3, Kingston City Council will receive the Report, which offers 40+ wide-ranging recommendations all aimed at increasing the supply of housing – and especially affordable housing – in Kingston.
“These recommendations come at an important juncture. The housing landscape is rapidly evolving and we have an opportunity to implement strategies that are innovative, practical, and will ensure we maintain healthy housing levels into the future,” says Mayor Bryan Paterson. “I look forward to carefully examining these recommendations and incorporating them into our city-wide practices.”
While Kingston’s rental vacancy rate recently increased to 1.9 per cent, it still falls short of the healthy 3 per cent mark – and a recent Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation Report also shows that local average rents went up 7.9 per cent last year.
“Responding to our housing affordability crisis has many paths which should be pursued. I strongly encourage anybody interested in Kingston housing to read the whole report. Fulfilling many of the recommendations will require sustained and detailed work. It will NOT be checking off boxes on a list,” says Ted Hsu, Co-Chair of the Task Force.
He highlights that an economic analysis shows that building affordable housing requires public funding or philanthropy.
Task Force Co-Chairs, Ted Hsu and Councillor Mary Rita Holland, will present the Report to Council on Tuesday: A Foundation for the Public Good: Recommendations to Increase Kingston’s Housing Supply for All is available as part Council’s agenda.
Below, are some of the Task Force’s recommendations to the City from the 70 page report, which is sorted into the following themes (please note that the listed recommendations have been shortened for this release):
Partners in Building Affordable Housing:
- Consult with the development community to set up a program to mentor not-for-profits creating affordable housing.
- Assist community organizations to pursue funding for affordable housing.
- Encourage the Federal and Provincial governments to divest surplus lands suitable for affordable housing.
A Housing Culture:
- Establish a Housing Working Group aimed at reaching a 3-4 per cent vacancy rate.
- Encourage creation of secondary suites in single-detached houses.
- Welcome innovative, cost-saving and climate-friendly construction methods.
- Acknowledge city-wide housing needs in making local planning decisions.
Housing Initiatives for Indigenous People:
- Commit resources to align with the National Indigenous Housing Strategy.
- Require mandatory Indigenous cultural competency/proficiency training for City staff and City-funded agencies.
- Prioritize Indigenous health and social equity, cultural concerns and social history in all supportive/housing-related plans.
- Look at including culturally supportive housing for Indigenous seniors as part of the Indigenous cultural centre.
Regulations to Help Supply Housing:
- Complete the City-wide harmonization of zoning bylaws.
- Allow for residential density to be added to commercially zoned areas.
- Accommodate increased density along arterial roads bordering otherwise low-rise neighbourhoods.
- Encourage low-rise, accessible multi-unit dwellings in neighbourhoods with single-detached homes.
- Support the planning and building and enforcement departments in addressing workload.
- Fast-track affordable housing projects.
Incentives to Build and Subsidies to Afford:
- Use Rental Housing Development Viability Analysis to inform policy.
- Consider a Community Improvement Plan to encourage affordable housing.
- Seek to incentivize the creation of smaller rental units without hampering the ability to respond to current market demand.
Quantitative Knowledge of the Housing Market and the Quantity of Housing:
- Plan to reach and sustain a 3-4 per cent vacancy rate.
- Make specific responses to specific housing sectors.
- Research how demolitions and renovations affect housing stock.
Quality and Sustainability
- Apply appropriate capital resources and best practices to upgrade and sustain the quality of affordable housing stock.
The Report reflects more than a year’s worth of work by the Task Force, which has sought to identify recommendations that:
- Address barriers to developing the housing supply.
- Offer tools and incentives to stimulate investment in housing supply.
- Can be applied city-wide.
- Encourage increased supply in a diverse range of housing.
- Complement the 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan.
- Have benefitted from community consultations, stakeholder submissions and briefings and studies.