​Federal grant will help to bring 36 women’s
​supportive housing units to Kitchener

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by Helen Hall
Kitchener Citizen
January 21, 2021

​Thanks to a new housing strategy approved by the City of Kitchener and a grant from the federal government, 36 supportive housing units will be built on Block Line Road in 2021 for homeless women and those at risk of being homeless.

​“We’re stepping up and saying ‘we’re going to do our part’,” said Kitchener Ward 6 Councillor Paul Singh about the city’s collaboration with the region. Affordable housing is a regional responsibility.

On December 16, the Region of Waterloo received $8.2-million from the federal government to build affordable housing units. The announcement was made by Ahmed Hussen, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, who is also the Minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

​​The money will be used by the Region for two projects in conjunction with two lower tier municipalities. In addition to the supportive housing units on Block Line Road, six one-bedroom units will be built on Bechtel Street in Cambridge for people on the community housing waiting list.

​The women’s modular units at 1470 Block Line Road will be built quickly and will be operated by YW Kitchener-Waterloo. Singh said that because modular housing units can be constructed quickly, the project is expected to be completed in 2021.

​​He believes the location is a good one. It is close to the Ion light rail transit, as well as a Kitchener Public Library branch and the Activa sports facility.

​​The property for the homes is next to the Country Hills Public Library at St. Mary’s High School. The property was donated by the City of Kitchener and is valued at $2.7-million.

​​Kitchener council approved a Housing for All strategy on December 14 that was was the impetus for making the donation. Housing for All is a plan to guide the city’s actions and investments to assist with the housing shortage in Kitchener until 2025.

​​In July, the Kitchener-Waterloo Association of Realtors reported that the average home price in Waterloo Region was nearly $640,000. A housing needs assessment completed early in 2020 showed a 41 percent increase in the average rent price since 2009.

​​The assessment also stated a need for 450 units of supportive housing, 5,000 units of community housing, and 9,300 units of affordable rental housing in Waterloo Region.

​​“Homelessness and housing affordability are two of our community’s most significant challenges,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic.

​​The housing strategy has seven priorities including a human rights based approach to housing, helping to end homelessness and creating a working group of community members with lived experience of homelessness and housing challenges to advise staff.

​​“The need is very dire,” said Singh. “For people at risk or homeless, giving them some housing security is absolutely a positive.”