City of Waterloo seeks to boost supply of affordable housing with grants for nonprofits

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The City of Waterloo is setting aside $500,000 to boost the local supply of affordable housing.

The proposed grant, which is a first for the city, would help nonprofits offset some of the costs of creating or maintaining affordable housing in Waterloo. City councilors approved a draft of the grant proposal on Monday.

“Programs like these are super important because we know there’s a growing problem with affordability in our city, in our region and in fact across the country,” said Tanja Curic, senior policy planner. on the project. “It’s important to help support and build affordable housing in our community.”

In 2019, 20% of households in Waterloo found the average market rent unaffordable, according to the city’s housing need and demand assessment — conditions that have not improved during the pandemic.

Curic said the grant money comes from an annual contribution to the operating budget, and an additional $1.3 million could be added to the grant from developer financial contributions.

Eligibility criteria

Curic said the city tries to be as flexible as possible when it comes to the types of housing projects that might be considered. They include:

  • New construction, which includes additions or extensions to an existing building.
  • The acquisition or rehabilitation of projects that risk being lost to the rental housing stock.
  • Total or partial conversion of a non-residential building into affordable rental housing.

“The project must be rental and at least 30% of the residential units in the project must be affordable, which means they must have a rent at or below 80% of the average market rent for at least 25 years,” says Curic. .

Com. Jeff Henry, who also chairs the finance committee, supports the proposal and said it comes at a critical time for many who may struggle.

“We are in a really tough housing market which is a crisis for so many people. It is really essential that all levels of government work together and use all the tools that they each have in their own toolbox to be in able to help support a broader set of And this affordable housing subsidy program is one of the tools that we can activate here,” he said.

City staff will now review community feedback and develop a final draft of the grant. If approved by the board, applications should be open by the fall, Curic said.

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