Home Base Housing responds to Queen’s residence project

A scale model of the proposed building was on display during the open hose, viewed here from what would be the north-east corner of the building. Photo by Tommy Vallier.

Earlier this week, Queen’s University hosted an open house about their proposed student residence development, and those in attendance voiced both opposition and support of the project.

The development is expected to house approximately 325 beds, and will be located on Albert Street, just south of Union Street. Two existing houses will be absorbed into the project, becoming part of the larger development, while three existing houses will be demolished to allow for construction of the five-storey building.

Today, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, Home Base Housing — a local supportive housing and housing-related services provider — is voicing support of the development in light of the local housing crisis.

The following is a press release from Home Base Housing outlining their support and reasoning behind it with quotes from Executive Director Tom Greening and President of Home Base Housing’s Board of Directors Ed Smith:

Home Base Non-Profit supports Queen’s University Residence Project to build 300 bed residence on Albert Street for its student population. Kingston is very fortunate to have an outstanding internationally recognized University. Its contribution to the economy of Kingston and research benefits all Kingstonians.

Unfortunately, with these benefits comes a huge cost to low and very moderate-income residents. Over the last ten years Queen’s student population growth of 3,428 students has had the impact of pushing out the working poor from what was once affordable apartments and homes. Students are paying $800 a month per bedroom for a 4-bedroom house at $3,200 per month or 2-bedroom apartment at $1,600 per month. Not only is this responsible for our low vacancy rate but has pushed what was once affordable apartments and homes out of the reach of most of Kingston’s residents.

“300 beds of new student housing is welcome but just a drop of water in the ocean of the problem. Queen’s estimates it will have student growth on an average of 366 students each year for the next three years. 300 beds will not even absorb one year of growth!” said Tom Greening, Executive Director of Home Base Housing. “ The impact of student consumption of affordable housing is at a crisis point. Unmet student housing demand in the next three years will consume 400 two-bedroom apartments or 200 four-bedroom houses.”

Home Base operates Kingston’s only family shelter and has seen a dramatic increase in families seek help. The shelter is constantly full, and we are projected this year alone to turn away more families than at any other time because of this crisis.

Kingston Home Base is looking to be part of the solution with an aggressive building program so families and the working poor don’t have to be turn to the streets. Government money is limited and has a role to play but cannot resolve this issue alone. The solution lies in reversing the impact of students on what was once affordable housing through construction of an additional 4,000 beds of purpose-built student housing on and near campus plus sufficient additional beds for any ongoing growth, so we do not fall into this trap again.

Home Base Housing provides affordable housing and support services to youth, single adults and families who have been homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless. Home Base is focused on the affordability needs of the Kingston residents with low and very moderate incomes.

Home Base Housing has identified that the single largest contributor to the very real affordable housing crisis is the lack of student housing provided by our post-secondary institutions. The need for additional student housing has pushed out families and singles from what have traditionally been more affordable neighborhoods. This has been happening for years and will continue to happen until an alternative is found.

“It appears that low-income individuals and families are getting the short end of the stick in terms of the cost of rental housing and quality of life because of the success of post-secondary education in Kingston,” said Ed Smith, Board President of Home Base Housing.

“Families who are residing in emergency shelters cannot find those two and three-bedroom apartments to move to. The shelter is full. When families do move into apartments, they are not financially sustainable, and issues of poverty become magnified for parents and children. Low-income individuals and families are in a more desperate state than we have seen in many decades.

“We at Home Base are willing partners in finding alternatives and solutions. We need to confront what many residents of Kingston have talked about for a long time, ” Smith continued.

“There is not sufficient government funding available to meet our current crisis and our collective previous attempts to understand and help with the housing affordability issues and supply have not been adequate.”

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  1. Dianne Holden November 8, 2019

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