A new community-led initiative in the Region of Waterloo has revealed plans to build thousands of new homes and put them on the market for half-price.
A collaboration between local non-profits, developers, and community partners, the BUILD NOW: Waterloo Region project aims to construct 10,000 new affordable and attainable homes by 2030.
Working with all levels of government, the partnership plans to provide 7,000 properties for purchase, and 3,000 homes for rent. Units will range from one to three bedrooms and will be located in buildings between four and six storeys tall. Each home will be placed on the market for approximately half-price, according to a release.
Each home will go directly to a buyer or renter who needs a place to live -- none of them will be available as investment properties. House flipping and other "profit-seeking market activities" will be prevented, too.
"The number one cause of the affordability crisis in Canada is the high cost of housing," said Philip Mills, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region, one of the pivotal partners on the project.
"When affordable housing is out of reach for middle- and lower-income families, the entire community is held back. We all have a stake in ensuring that our region can grow sustainably and affordably and, with this 'all hands on dec'’ partnership we have a plan to do just that."
The diverse group will enable the BUILD NOW: Waterloo Region project to cut costs that are not directly tied to the material and labour needed to build new homes.
Partners will transfer undeveloped land for construction, development charges will be waived under Bill 23, and builders will eliminate any mark-ups beyond what allows them to build new housing at cost. There is also the potential that private underdeveloped land will be transferred for free or for low cost.
According to an analysis by Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region, these three factors alone account for roughly 50% of the cost of a new home.
"The goal of 'half priced homes' is realistic and achievable as long as we embrace innovative policies that replace short-term self-interest with a long-term commitment to sustainable growth," Mills said.
"There is land available. Builders have the skills and labour to build the homes. Local not-for-profits and charities have experience working with rental providers to ensure that affordable rentals are available. The provincial government has the vision and resources to fast-track development approvals and help fund servicing and infrastructure requirements. And Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region brings the experience in governing affordable housing projects."
The 10,000 new homes included in the BUILD NOW: Waterloo Region projects will contribute to the Government of Ontario's goal of building 1.5M homes by 2031.
The cities within the Region of Waterloo -- Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo -- have a combined 10-year housing target of 70,000 new homes.
In May, Cambridge registered 120 housing starts and 171 completions, while Kitchener saw 83 starts and 592 completions -- the second-highest in the province after Toronto. Meanwhile, Waterloo managed to get shovels in the ground on four homes, and completed just six others.