What is affordable housing?

    Affordable housing is generally understood to mean housing where the cost is less than the household income and the household can afford their other basic needs after housing expenses are paid. The Province (PPS 2020) and the City’s Official Plan define affordable housing specifically as: 

    1. In the case of ownership housing, the least expensive of:
      1. housing for which the purchase price results in annual accommodation costs which do not exceed 30% of gross annual household income for low and moderate income households; or 
      2. housing for which the purchase price is at least 10% below the average purchase price of a resale unit in the regional market area.
    2. In the case of rental housing, the least expensive of: 
      1. a unit for which the rent does not exceed 30% of gross annual household income for low and moderate income households; or 
      2. a unit for which rent is at or below the average market rent of a unit in the regional market area.

    For the purposes of this definition, a regional market area is the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, and low and moderate income means:

    1. in the case of ownership housing, households with incomes in the lowest 60% of the income distribution for the regional market area; 
    2. in the case of rental housing, households with incomes in the lowest 60% of the income distribution for renter households for the regional market area.

    Are there different types of affordable housing?

    Affordable housing can include a wide range of building types and tenures. Affordable housing can include temporary housing that provides accommodation for those who are homeless, displaced or fleeing violence. It also includes more permanent shelter for those who cannot afford market rate housing or for those who need special supports. While affordable housing is most commonly built as rental housing, it can also include affordable ownership, or cooperative ownership housing. Providers of affordable housing can range from government agencies, private market developers/builders, co-operative organizations, not-for-profit organizations, or any combination of these.

    Why do we need an Affordable Housing Strategy?

    Within Ontario’s provincial policy and planning system, municipalities are required to plan for an appropriate range and mix of housing options and densities to meet projected market-based and affordable housing needs of current and future residents.  An affordable housing strategy will assist the City in planning for the full range of housing needs.

    Ensuring a sufficient supply of affordable housing is essential to safeguard the dignity, health, safety and inclusion of all community members. Individuals who can not secure affordable housing may find it challenging to obtain and keep employment, to recover from mental illness, to integrate into the community, to escape physical or emotional violence and to keep custody of their children. For these reasons, affordable housing is a cornerstone of Waterloo’s overall health and prosperity.