Collaboration needed to tackle affordable housing in Kawartha Lakes

By Lindsay Advocate

The City of Kawartha Lakes is responsible for administering and funding housing and homelessness programs in the City of Kawartha Lakes and County of Haliburton. File photo.

At the July 25 regular council meeting, Michelle Corley, human services manager for housing, presented an update on the affordable housing targets. This is one of the 60+ objectives outlined in the 10-year Housing and Homelessness Plan. A corresponding report was provided to Council, which gave an update on the remainder of the objectives outlined in the plan.

The City of Kawartha Lakes is responsible for administering and funding housing and homelessness programs in the City of Kawartha Lakes and County of Haliburton. Outlined by the Housing Service Act, the municipality is required to have a 10-year Housing and Homelessness Plan. This plan has over 60 objectives, covering eight policy areas, one of which establishes affordable housing targets.

The affordable housing target, initially established in 2019, set out a goal of 1,280 additional affordable rental units in Kawartha Lakes. These new units would come from a combination of KLH Housing Corp., private developers, and applying affordable housing subsidies to existing market rent units. A rough estimate found a total investment of $483 million would be needed to achieve this target, which could include funding from partners and upper levels of government.

“I think council can all agree that this is a critical topic for discussion coming into the 2024 budget. We must explore opportunities to further support affordable housing. Tackling this urgent issue will take collaboration and hard work between staff, council, community partners, private developers, and upper levels of government,” commented Mayor Doug Elmslie.

Factors that have impacted the municipality’s ability to reach these targets include:

  • fewer first-time home buyers leaving the rental market
  • housing as an investment such as through short term rentals
  • loss of private development partnerships
  • rising inflation
  • increasing rental rates
  • increasing demand for supportive housing

These factors have contributed to average market rent increases in the last five years between 31% to 65%, depending on the size of the unit. Some households are waiting up to 14 years for an affordable housing opportunity.

Affordable Housing will be an important topic for discussion in 2024 budget

Historically, Kawartha Lakes has encouraged affordable housing by waiving development fees. Due to increased costs to construct new developments, these incentives are not enough to make a significant impact, representing only 3-6% of total costs for an affordable housing unit.

Property tax exemptions, land donation, rent subsidies, and capital funding are just a few ways the municipality can financially support development of affordable housing. Other opportunities include purchasing and converting rental properties to affordable units and supporting innovative building systems. The municipality can reserve servicing capacity for affordable housing, streamline planning processes, implement costs and fees for vacant or underdeveloped land and buildings, and advocate upper levels of government for support.

For the first time, the 2024 budget will include an affordable housing reserve, allowing the municipality to make meaningful investments in affordable housing.

The presentation was concluded with a list of priority action items to bring us closer to achieving the plan’s targets. For more information, please visit the municipality’s YouTube Channel for the full presentation, or read the 2022 Housing and Homelessness Plan (HHP) Annual Progress Report on its website.


  1. Wallace says:

    There should be different affordable housing for different people. Seniors on a fixed income, non-addicts with real disabilities and hard working moms and dads with low incomes, should not be expected to live in a building with some of the meth heads we all see walking around the streets of Lindsay and sleeping in the parks. The eternally addicted and unemployed need their own housing. The Feds and Province are going to have to spend a few billion on Canadians and build adequate housing for ALL people that need it. Theres always lots of money to give to other countries. There must be lots to spend here in Canada for Canadians.

  2. I still favour a federal basic income law, generous enough to replace all provincial welfare programs, that would use CRA software to administer to our poorest a benefit calculated according to income tax returns that would allow them the freedom – and the privacy – to live where they want and with whom they want, within their budgets. I too object to ghettoizing poverty. Poverty is not a strong enough common denominator to build a community around. Also, the low-income housing projects always seem to be magnets for organized crime. They run protection and intimidate residents, adding to the problems of the poor. Treat the poor like everybody else – give them the means to exercise their Constitutional freedoms and the privacy to live their lives as they see fit.

  3. jessica says:

    build more subsidized housing for hard working single mothers. Please!

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