During last weeks Council meeting, Cambridge City Council approved a motion to declare two City-owned lots as surplus to potentially use as part of the Region of Waterloo’s plans to develop new affordable housing under the federal Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI). The City will lease these lands to the Region to create affordable housing units.
“The availability of more affordable housing is vital for our residents,” said Mayor Kathryn McGarry. “Opening up these lands for participation in Canada’s Rapid Housing Initiative will bring more options, more quickly. As a Council, we’re committed to finding ways to work with the Region and to support our community. Every resident deserves a safe and affordable place to call home, and we have a collective responsibility to work together to make that happen.”
The properties put forward to the Region include a 1.1-acre vacant lot at Grand Ridge Drive and Cedar Creek Road and a .53-acre open space at 2 Manhattan Cir. These two sites meet the Regional and City criteria for affordable housing sites including proximity to parks and public transportation, compatibility to surrounding areas, land size, zoning and density.
Under the RHI, the federal government has allocated approximately $8.2 million in funding for affordable housing to the Region of Waterloo for at least 29 units of new permanent affordable housing throughout the region. The City’s participation in this initiative provides an opportunity to increase Cambridge’s affordable housing supply, which is an important component of the City’s Strategic Plan.
“With housing officially under the Regional umbrella, it’s important for us to be ready to work together and to identify opportunities as they arise,” said City Manager David Calder. “That’s why consideration for affordable housing units is not only built into our City’s Strategic Plan, but also our Official Plan and Community Improvement Plan. By ensuring that we have the administrative pieces in place, we are able to quickly plan for and participate in these larger government initiatives when they come up.”
The RHI is focused on quickly developing new modular multi-unit rentals, converting non-residential buildings into affordable multi-residential homes, and rehabilitating buildings that are abandoned or in disrepair into affordable multi-residential homes. The overall federal investment under this initiative is $1 billon to create up to 3,000 new, permanent affordable housing units across the country.
The Region of Waterloo will be providing their proposed investment plan for the $8.2 million to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, who is administering the funds, by November 27.
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