The housing crisis is real and not enough is being done about it. Affordable housing is a social and economic issue; when people are putting most of their paychecks into rent, they can’t spend their money on things like going out to the movies, eating out, shopping at local businesses, etc., which means that not enough money is going back into the economy. 

Kingston city council continues to push that increasing vacancy rates will help the housing crisis, but it has done the exact opposite. In 2018, Kingston had the lowest vacancy rates in Ontario (0.6%); in 2019 that number increased to 1.9%, almost bringing Kingston to Ontario’s average vacancy rate of 2%. However, it hasn’t helped the housing crisis in Kingston in any way. During that same time, the average fixed sample rent for all bedrooms increased by 7.9%.

There’s no doubt in my mind that by 2021, Kingston will be over Ontario’s vacancy rate average. The city has almost 1000 new residential units under construction that will be ready to rent out this year and 2021. 

It’s great that the council is approving these projects but it’s not enough. There is 0% affordable housing for full-time minimum wage workers in Kingston. It is unacceptable that Kingston has allowed this to happen; anyone that works a full-time job should be able to find an affordable place to live. 

There is a lot of work that needs to be done to make housing affordable in Kingston, but if I was a councillor today I would push for two things to get the ball moving in the right direction. First, I would push the city to invest in tiny homes.

The average cost of tiny homes is $30,000 to $40,000. They are affordable to make and they can be built to match anyone’s lifestyle and budget. Hopefully, all levels of government would invest in having Kingston pilot tiny homes to end homelessness. When I ran for the Green party of Canada nomination in Kingston and the Islands, I made a proposal that if I was elected I would push to pilot tiny homes. If you’re interested in my tiny homes idea, it can be found here.

The other thing I would push for is that every residential unit project that council approves should mandate that new developments include 1 new unit of affordable housing for every 5 new houses or condos/apartments.

The housing crisis is a complex problem that requires creative solutions and we need our council to start making progress now because we shouldn’t have to wait to elect a new council to get moving on affordable housing.

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