Feds announce $7.4 million for Kingston’s Rapid Housing Initiative again

Editorial note:
Although Minister Huseen said this was the “second round” of the Rapid Housing Initiative funding, the City of Kingston has more recently clarified that the $7.4 million announced today, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, is the same $7.4 million that was announced in July of 2021, and not in addition to that funding. The total funding for this Initiative from the federal government is $7.4 million. This article has been updated to reflect that fact.

The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, appeared via teleconference this morning, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, to announce an additional $7.4 million in funding to support housing projects located in Kingston through the City stream of the Rapid Housing Initiative. The press conference was held at City Hall jointly by Mayor Bryan Paterson and MP Mark Gerretsen.

The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, appeared via teleconference with Kingston City Hall. Screen Capture.

“We know that for many families, they’re put in the impossible position to have to choose between paying their rent and paying for groceries, and we know that this past year and a half has been quite challenging for so many Canadian families,” said Minister Hussen, “While we all have dealt with the impact of the pandemic… the COVID-19 pandemic has already worsened existing housing challenges for the most vulnerable residents in our communities.”

“In Budget 2021, we created a clear roadmap for recovery from the pandemic and, just this week in the Speech from the Throne, we reaffirmed our plan for pandemic recovery that will see us roaring back as a country in every community,” he explained, “And affordable housing will be key to that recovery. We have to make sure that as we recover from the pandemic, and as we recover from the economic challenges brought forward by the pandemic, that no one is left behind. And one of the ways to ensure that is the case is to build more affordable housing to meet the need that is out there in every community, including in Kingston.”

“So, as Mark [Gerretsen] said,” Hussen continued, “that’s why we expanded the rapid housing initiative from the first round to the second round, turning 4,700 successful projects into 9,200 successful projects, so that over 9,200 families and individuals will have a safe and affordable place to call home.”

This funding, which follows a previous such funding announcement in July of 2021, but announced the same $7.4 million in funding, will support the rapid creation of 47 new permanent affordable housing units for people living in precarious housing situations and for those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. These units will be located at four different sites: 1 Curtis Crescent, 113 Lower Union Street, 3 Cassidy Street, and 805 Ridley Drive, as previously decided by Kingston City Council.

“And,” explained Hussen, “just like in the first round of the rapid housing initiative, this second round of funding will ensure that all these units will be built in 12 months or less.”

“These targeted investments not only provide housing,” the Minister pointed out, “but they will stimulate the local economy and provide good, well paying, jobs at a time when they are needed the most. So this is great news for Kingston’s economy. It’s great news for workers.  And its great news for those who will call these housing units home.”

“And today’s announcement really builds on a number of initiatives in the national housing strategy, a 10-year, $72-billion plan to make sure that each and every Canadian has a safe and affordable place to call home. These investments are about having a better quality of life for everyone and making sure that people have an equal chance of success,” he said.

“And we know from our experience with the pandemic that housing matters, it matters as we keep people safe from COVID-19. It matters for the well-being of our economy as we emerge from the pandemic. Housing matters now more than ever before as we build back better and as we make sure that no Canadian is left behind,” he said, finishing, “thank you to MP Mark Gerretsen and thank you to Mayor Paterson and all your teams for the hard work and your advocacy to ensure that this investment landed in Kingston, and I have no doubt that it will be put to good use.”

Left to right Mayor Bryan Paterson, MP Mark Gerretsen, and Minister Hussen via teleconference from Ottawa. Screen Capture.

The three men took questions from the media via telephone.  The first question concerned how and who will pick the people best suited for the units.

Mayor Paterson explained, “So, this will definitely be a partnership between the City and agencies that will be running each of these four different locations. A couple of those agencies are already in place. For example, for Indigenous Supportive Housing, Tipi Moza [Iron Home an urban First Nation, Metis and Inuit housing provider developed under the CMHC Urban Native Housing Program]. For one of the other supportive housing projects for youth,  Ongwandada is taking the lead, and then we’re still working to put those other details in place. But ultimately, it’s going to be in collaboration, obviously, the City working together with those agencies. They’re the ones that know the situations. They are the ones that understand, on the ground, who is in most need of housing, who is the right fit in each of those places. And so that local expertise is going to be key in identifying who those individuals will be.”

In order to meet the 12-month deadline for the Rapid Housing Initiative, the new units will not be newly built, but rather renovations of existing space that is not currently being used.

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