By Chad Ingram

Next week the County of Haliburton and the City of Kawartha Lakeswill host information sessions regarding incentive programs availablefor those who commit to building affordable housing in the region.

These sessions will be worthwhile for builders developerslandlords as well as homeowners who might entertain secondary suites in their homes to attend.

For anyone unaware there is a massive lack of what is consideredaffordable housing in the county as well as in the City of KawarthaLakes. The City of Kawartha Lakes is the social services provider forthe county and keeps the centralized waiting list of people waiting toget into subsidized housing in the joint area comprised by the two. Thenumber of people on that waiting list has nearly quadrupled since 2013and currently has more than 1700 households on it. Someone who getsonto the list today may wait for as long as seven years before beingable to get into affordable housing.

The reasons for that phenomenon are many and interconnected butcertainly housing prices that have increased significantly in the pastsix years and new mortgage rules with stricter criteria and larger down payments have made homeownership more difficult for some. There’s also the dearth of rental accommodations in the community meaning landlords can charge more meaning more people stay in subsidized housing forlonger periods which lowers the vacancy rate for those units andincreases the size of the wait list.

There is also a huge mismatch when it comes to the type of housingthere is demand for versus the type of housing that is available. While the most common type of rentals available are single detached homesthe greatest demand by far is for one-bedroom units.

There are a variety of funding programs available for those willingto construct affordable housing or convert existing housing intoaffordable units and info sessions will drill down into the details ofthose funding programs. It’s important to note that it’s not just aboutbuilding new housing. Building owners can receive incentives for theconversion of current apartments to affordable units. Then whiletenants from the waiting list would pay their share (affordable housingis considered that which does not exceed a third of a household’s grossincome) the difference between that amount and the agreed upon marketvalue of the rental is paid through subsidies. The owner of singledetached home can receive funding to construct a secondary suite in that home with the commitment of providing that space as affordable housing for an agreed upon amount of time.

The info sessions will be held at the Haliburton Legion  on TuesdayFeb. 11 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. and at the Fenelon Falls Community Centre on Thursday Feb. 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Both sessions will offerthe same information.