Incentives for creating affordable housing
By Chad Ingram
The City of Kawartha Lakes and the County of Haliburton will host two information sessions next week aimed at developers, landlords and homeowners about incentive programs for the creation of affordable housing.
One session will take place at the Haliburton Legion on Tuesday, Feb. 11 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. and the second will take place at the Fenelon Falls Community Centre on Thursday, Feb. 13, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Both sessions will offer the same information.
“It’s all related to the housing and homelessness plan we recently approved,” Hope Lee, manager of human services for the City of Kawartha Lakes, told the Echo. The city is the social services manager for Haliburton County.
Lee presented the housing and homelessness plan to Haliburton County councillors in November. That plan contains information on the lack of affordable housing locally, what is considered affordable rent or affordable home ownership for people in certain income brackets, and also lays out housing goals for the coming decade. That information will be presented at the info sessions, along with details of funding programs for those who commit to create affordable housing in the community.
There is funding available for those who offer to construct buildings with new affordable units, however, as Lee pointed out, “it’s not all about building new rentals, or new ownership.”
There are incentives available for converting market rental units into affordable units. In the case of a multi-unit building, it could be converting the entire building, or just a certain number of units.
Affordable rent means that the amount of rent does not exceed one third of a household’s gross income. The city and landlord would agree on what is fair market rent for the units.
“The way the program works, tenants would be selected from our waiting list,” Lee said.
The tenants or tenants would pay their share, with subsidies comprising the rest of the landlord’s rent. In any cases of damage or disputes, Lee notes that the city’s support services will assist landlords.
“Another component is homeowners who have a home they want to create a second unit in,” Lee said, explaining that funding is also available for construction costs in such cases. She noted that accepting funding means there is an expectation that units will be provided as affordable housing for an agreed-upon amount of time.
Construction projects will be subject to municipal approval processes, and municipalities themselves are also encouraged to provide incentives for the creation of affordable housing units, such as the waiving of building permits and other fees, and consideration of lowered or waived property taxation.
There are some 1,700 households on the joint waiting list for affordable housing in the combined area of Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes, a 375 per cent increase since 2013. The greatest demand is for one-bedroom units.
For more information about the sessions or programming, contact Elise Karklins, affordable housing program co-ordinator, at email@example.com or 705-324-9870, ext. 3105.