By Chad Ingram
The wait list for financially assisted housing in Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes is growing quickly.
Since 2013 the list has almost quadrupled increasing by 375 per cent “which is quite substantial and concerning” Michelle Corley program supervisor with the City of Kawartha Lakes’ housing help division told Haliburton County councillors during a meeting in late March.
The City of Kawartha Lakes is the social services manager of the county responsible for overseeing housing and homelessness programming.
There are some 1700 households on that waiting list nearly 700 of them singles or couples 600 of them seniors and about 375 of them families. The greatest demand is for one-bedroom units.
A number of market conditions have contributed to the wait list’s growth. Housing prices have increased during the past six years and new mortgage rules with stricter criteria and larger down payments have made homeownership more difficult for some.
“That is contributing to more stress on the rental market” Corley said.
Because there is a limited supply of rental accommodations in the area it means the price of rentals has also increased. All of these factors mean that those who live in financially assisted housing accommodations are staying put longer.
“They’re moving out less frequently than they used to” Corley said.
Less turnover means a growing list of people waiting to get into financially assisted housing.
Currently the wait time for Haliburton County residents is about three and a half years for those on the list about five for those in Lindsay. Someone putting their name on the list today could wait as long as seven years. County residents comprise 20 per cent of the waiting list or 337 households. Of those 160 are seniors 120 are households with no dependents and 51 are households with dependents.
To keep up with demand ideally 75 new affordable units would need to be constructed within the county each year with 48 of them being one-bedroom units. The city is setting new targets as it updates its 10-year housing and homelessness plan.
“We can only achieve some of these targets with the co-operation of all levels of government” Corley said.
While municipalities can offer incentives to private developers to create affordable housing – provision of land waiving or reducing property taxes waiving building and permit fees reducing parking space requirements etc. – private builders are still often reluctant to construct affordable housing buildings since the profit margins are too low. Therefore most of the affordable housing projects in the community such as the second phase of Pinegrove Place development near the Minden arena are constructed with government funding.