Kingston City Council approves over $7 million in funding for housing and homelessness initiatives

On Tuesday, Apr. 4, 2023, Kingston city councillors approved a staff report that recommended over $7 million in funding for two affordable housing projects. Screen captured image.

At a meeting on Tuesday, Apr. 4, 2023, Kingston City Council approved funding allocations for two affordable housing projects in the city. The two developments, led by separate not-for-profit organizations, will create an influx of transitional and supportive housing units in Kingston, with the City providing the necessary funding to get the projects off the ground.

A report presented to Council in advance of Tuesday’s meeting called on councillors to approve $6.5 million for Addiction and Mental Health Services of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (AMHS-KFLA), as well as $900,000 for Ryandale Transitional Housing. The money will be used to help the two organizations acquire properties that will create new housing units and other support services geared toward the city’s vulnerable populations.

For AMHS-KFLA, the $6.5 million will help the organization build a new Complex Community and Health Care Facility. According to the staff report, such a facility will establish a path from “harm reduction to actual skill development, proper treatment, and transitional housing.” AMHS-KFLA currently provides a number of different community and health care services across seven locations within the KFLA region. “[AMHS-KFLA] also provides comprehensive integrated housing for individuals with higher acuity levels in Kingston,” the report added.

While a variety of services are currently offered to members of the city’s vulnerable populations, the report noted that a gap still exists “for people with high acuity, especially for services that combine both complex community and health care with housing and shelter options.” As such, the organization has been working on establishing a facility that can provide a broad range of different services under one roof.

The staff report did not indicate an official location for the project, but it did note that staff with AMHS-KFLA have evaluated a number of potential properties for the facility. “A couple of properties are suitable as they are an institutional type of facility that would be convenient for community and health care [and] skill development, as well as accommodating drop-in/transitional type[s] of housing,” It is expected that the chosen property will be able to accommodate between 50 and 100 people, “depending on programs and layout of the accommodation area.” 

In terms of the overall cost of the project, the report recommended $6.5 million be directed through the City’s 2023 affordable housing capital budget, which would allow AMHS-KFLA to purchase a property and complete any necessary renovations.

One thing that remains unclear about the new Complex Community and Health Care Facility is the impact such a project would have on the Integrated Care Hub (ICH) on Montreal Street, for which AMHS-KFLA provides services, alongside Kingston Community Health Centres and Trellis HIV and Community Care. While the report noted that City Council approved a motion last year to help the organizations find a new location for the ICH, further communication with the City of Kingston has revealed that the planned new facility will not necessarily offer the same services as the ICH.

In an email exchange with Kingstonist, a representative from the City said, “The new Complex Care Facility will offer some similar services [as the ICH] but will overall have a much broader scope of services.” The representative went on to add that should the new facility eventually offer the same services as the ICH, AMHS-KFLA would then “reassess the need/priority for the current ICH.” While the City didn’t pointedly say the ICH would not be incorporated into the new Complex Community and Health Care Facility, it was implied that the two will be kept separate.

“The City continues to work with and support our partners in finding appropriate space for services, including services currently provided at the ICH,” the representative noted.

On top of the $6.5 million for AMHS-KFLA, the report also included a recommendation that Council approve $900,000 for Ryandale Transitional Housing, to create new supportive affordable housing units. According to the report, the funding would help the organization acquire a property that could house a maximum of eight individuals. “Ryandale will provide supportive affordable housing services with on-site staff 12 hours per day… Supportive affordable housing is part of the housing continuum and is a critical service that still has gaps in the community.” 

As with the Complex Community and Health Care Facility, staff did not identify a specific property for the project, but the report noted that $900,000 would cover the costs of acquiring the location. In terms of the funding breakdown, the report recommended that $304,000 be provided through the City’s Housing and Homelessness reserve, while another $506,000 comes from 2023 Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative funding.

On top of the costs associated with purchasing and renovating the undisclosed property, staff also recommended that Council approve a yearly operational funding plan for the project: Ryandale would receive $75,000 for six months of operation in 2023 and $150,000 a year from 2024 to 2027, with the money set to be provided through the City’s social services budget.

When the staff report was presented to Council on Tuesday night, there was no debate from members, and the recommendations received unanimous support.

The full — and very short (by comparison to most) — Kingston City Council meeting of Tuesday, Apr. 4, 2023, can be viewed on the Kingston City Council YouTube channel.

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