Kingston Council to debate funding for Lionhearts transitional housing projects

On Tuesday night, Kingston City Council will debate recommendations from staff which could see the municipality provide funding for a pair of new transitional housing projects led by Lionhearts Inc. Photo by Lucas Mulder/The Kingstonist.

At its meeting on Tuesday, Sep. 5, 2023, Kingston City Council will be asked to provide financial support for a pair of new transitional housing projects led by Lionhearts Inc.

A staff report circulating in advance of Tuesday’s meeting explains that Lionhearts has a long record of providing meals and other supports to vulnerable members of the local community and has recently begun to offer emergency shelter services, including support at the Adelaide Street Centre. 

As part of its ongoing work to support Kingstonians experiencing homelessness, Lionhearts has identified two properties it intends to use to increase the number of supportive and transitional housing units available in the city.  “Lionhearts Inc. has the opportunity to acquire two properties that would provide new housing capacity for homeless and precariously housed community members,” notes the report. 

The first property is an unidentified duplex dwelling, at which Lionhearts would be able to accommodate up to five individuals through two independent apartment units. To help it acquire the property, Lionhearts has requested $57,000 from the City of Kingston through the non-profit housing acquisition program, which is part of the 2023 Home Ownership Program. 

The report adds that Lionhearts is also hoping to secure an additional $300,000 for the project through a community benefit contribution linked to a development project being pursued at 275 Queen Street. While the City has already negotiated the terms of the benefit with Lionhearts, the development in question is currently the subject of an ongoing appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal. 

Due to the time-sensitive nature of this item, with Lionhearts having until September 6 to confirm the financial details of the sale, staff are recommending the City provide the organization with a $300,000 loan, which would be repaid once the organization receives its $300,000 community benefit contribution. “The purpose of the City providing the loan now is to enable Lionhearts Inc. to proceed with the housing projects,” the report reads. 

While the community benefit contribution is dependent on the outcomes of the Ontario Land Tribunal hearing, staff say that the risk associated with providing the loan to Lionhearts before the organization officially receives the benefit is “low.” The report notes, “The City and the owner of 275 Queen Street have entered into binding Minutes of Settlement, which require the owner to pay the $300,000 community benefit contribution to Lionhearts Inc. upon approval of the settlement by the Ontario Land Tribunal.” 

By working with a not-for-profit such as Lionhearts, the City of Kingston is hoping to find new ways to expand the capacity and range of options available to members of the community who are homeless or precariously housed. Currently, Lionhearts has 11 existing rental properties, which the organization uses to further support vulnerable members of the community. 

In addition to the acquisition of the duplex dwelling, Lionhearts is also hoping to use some of the $300,000 to renovate an institutional property that is being donated to the organization. “Lionhearts Inc. has been working with a property owner that has generously committed to transferring an institutional property to Lionhearts Inc. with the condition that the location continues to provide a housing benefit to the community,” the report notes. 

For this particular project, the City’s loan would allow the organization to carry out the necessary renovations at the site, which will permit up to eight individuals through a congregate living arrangement. Staff add, “Support services will be provided to transitional housing residents with the objective of transitioning participants towards housing stability and independence. Rents will be affordable and generally consistent with social assistance shelter allowance rates.”

The staff report will be presented to City Council during its meeting on Tuesday, Sep. 5, 2023, which begins at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at Kingston City Hall. Meetings are open to the public and can be streamed live (or viewed after) on the Kingston City Council YouTube page.

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