The City of Kingston is once again set to receive support through the federal government’s Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI). According to a staff report presented to City Councillors ahead of a meeting on Jan. 17, 2023, the City is set to receive $6,669,918 in funding during the program’s upcoming third round. Established in 2020, the RHI is part of the federal government’s National Housing Strategy.
With funding delivered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the RHI has already provided $1.5 billion to create 4,500 new housing units across Camada. The program makes funding available through two distinct streams; the Cities Stream provides money directly to municipalities, while the Projects Stream funds projects based on a competitive applications-based process.
The City of Kingston previously received funding in 2021 as part of the second round of the RHI, with the program providing the municipality with $7.4 million to build a minimum of 28 new affordable units. “Kingston’s round two projects achieved occupancy in 2022 and surpassed expectations by creating 21 new units and 26 new transitional housing beds in congregate living facilities, for a total of 47 affordable units,” the report said.
Under the third round of the RHI, the City of Kingston will receive more than $6.5 million through the Cities Stream, to construct a minimum of 25 new units, which are to remain “affordable” for at least 20 years. “The City can directly own the units or appoint an intermediary organization to own and operate the units, however, the City is responsible for ensuring the project meets the program requirements during the 20-year term,” noted the report.
To meet the requirements of the RHI, “prospective residents of funded units must be homeless, at risk of homelessness, or in severe housing need (i.e. spending more than 50 per cent of income on housing cost).” Projects funded through the RHI may incorporate a number of different housing types, including standard rental housing, transitional housing, and seniors housing.
Increasing the overall supply of affordable housing in Kingston is in line with the City’s 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan and the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing’s final report. According to the staff report, the RHI program provides for a “deep level of affordability with rents established at 30 per cent of the gross household income or maximum shelter allowance for social assistance recipients. This level of affordability is consistent with social housing rent levels and will be a welcome addition to the local affordable housing supply.”
During Tuesday night’s meeting, City Councillors voted to authorize the Mayor and City Clerk to enter into an agreement with CMHC to receive Kingston’s round three funding allocation. The agreement between the City and CMHC must be executed by Feb. 15, 2023. City staff will then report back to Council sometime during the first quarter of 2023 to confirm which projects are being submitted to CMHC for approval.
Staff have already consulted with CMHC representatives to ensure the City’s proposed projects meet the program’s eligibility criteria. A full list of projects must be submitted to CMHC by Mar. 13, 2023, with the federal agency expected to officially confirm all eligible projects by May 15 of this year. Units must be open to residents by November 2024.