Affordable Housing Strategy

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The supply of affordable housing in Waterloo has not kept pace with demand. Over the past few decades, housing prices and rents have increased substantially faster than incomes, creating affordability challenges for many Waterloo households. The impact of reduced affordability can be seen region-wide in increased homelessness and a growing community housing waitlist and longer wait times. Populations most affected by the gap between income and housing costs include older adults, Indigenous peoples, new Canadians, single parent households, and individuals experiencing mental health challenges and/or addictions. Increasingly, young adults and moderate income earners are also finding it challenging to secure housing that they can afford.

To address the growing problem of housing affordability, the City of Waterloo is developing an Affordable Housing Strategy. The strategy will identify actions to be undertaken by the City to protect the existing affordable housing stock and to increase the supply of new affordable housing in the City. The strategy will consider approaches to address affordability challenges for low and moderate income households, and options to ensure a sustainable supply of a diverse range of housing types, sizes and tenures (i.e. ownership or rental housing).

The first step in developing the Strategy will be research and information gathering about the type and quantity of housing needed in Waterloo to address the housing affordability challenge. Check back here in Winter/Spring 2021 to provide your input on the preliminary findings of this research. You can also leave a comment at anytime if you have ideas or suggestions about affordable housing.

The supply of affordable housing in Waterloo has not kept pace with demand. Over the past few decades, housing prices and rents have increased substantially faster than incomes, creating affordability challenges for many Waterloo households. The impact of reduced affordability can be seen region-wide in increased homelessness and a growing community housing waitlist and longer wait times. Populations most affected by the gap between income and housing costs include older adults, Indigenous peoples, new Canadians, single parent households, and individuals experiencing mental health challenges and/or addictions. Increasingly, young adults and moderate income earners are also finding it challenging to secure housing that they can afford.

To address the growing problem of housing affordability, the City of Waterloo is developing an Affordable Housing Strategy. The strategy will identify actions to be undertaken by the City to protect the existing affordable housing stock and to increase the supply of new affordable housing in the City. The strategy will consider approaches to address affordability challenges for low and moderate income households, and options to ensure a sustainable supply of a diverse range of housing types, sizes and tenures (i.e. ownership or rental housing).

The first step in developing the Strategy will be research and information gathering about the type and quantity of housing needed in Waterloo to address the housing affordability challenge. Check back here in Winter/Spring 2021 to provide your input on the preliminary findings of this research. You can also leave a comment at anytime if you have ideas or suggestions about affordable housing.

  • Research and Innovation in Affordable Housing forum

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    On March 12, 2021, the City of Waterloo hosted a discussion forum on Research and Innovation in Affordable Housing. The discussion was an opportunity to learn about current and emerging researching in the field of housing planning and policy, and how we might use this knowledge to plan for more diverse, affordable and inclusive housing in Waterloo and beyond. The forum was moderated by Michelle Lee, Senior Policy Planner for the City of Waterloo, and included:

    • Dr. Martine August, Assistant Professor, School of Planning, University of Waterloo
    • Dr. Brian Doucet, Associate Professor, School of Planning, University of Waterloo
    • Dr. Sean Geobey, Assistant Professor, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, University of Waterloo
    • Dr. Markus Moos, Associate Professor/Director, School of Planning, University of Waterloo
    • Dr. Dawn Parker, Professor, School of Planning, University of Waterloo


    Discussion questions:

    1. Based on your research, is inadequate supply the most important factor underlying declining housing affordability in Ontario? Are there other significant factors that contribute to increased house prices and rents locally and province-wide? (begins at about 03:12 in video)
    2. How can municipalities respond to these driving forces through planning policy and other actions in order to have meaningful impact on housing affordability? (begins at about 26:40 in video)
    3. What opportunities are there for the University of Waterloo and the City of Waterloo to collaborate on local housing policy and research? (begins at about 57:17 in video)

    The questions were followed by an open Q&A with the audience (begins at about 1:04:05 in video).