Local REALTORS® call for action to build more missing middle housing as nearly 4 in 10 (38%) residents report living in unaffordable homes
WATERLOO, ON – Waterloo residents are struggling under the affordability crisis, and many are considering moving to a more affordable location, according to a new poll conducted on behalf of the Waterloo Region Association of REALTORS® (WRAR). At the heart of the affordability crisis is the cost of housing with four in ten (38%) reporting that they live in housing that is unaffordable.
“Almost four in ten Waterloo residents are spending more than 30 per cent of their total household income on housing,” said Megan Bell, President of WRAR. “The bottom line is the high cost of housing is being driven by a lack of attainable housing supply in the region. The problem is particularly bad among millennials and young people.”
According to the poll, millennials were the most likely (43%) group to be spending over 30 per cent of their household income on housing. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) defines housing as “affordable” if it costs less than 30% of a household’s before-tax income. The high cost of housing in the Waterloo Region could be a major challenge to attracting skilled talent in the future.
“Waterloo Region technology companies and other businesses need skilled talent to compete on the global market,” said Bell. “If we don’t get to work building more homes, Waterloo will struggle to compete against other technology hubs in attracting top-tier talent. Building more affordable homes is not just about meeting the needs of growing families or downsizing seniors it’s also about the long-term economic success of local communities.”
According to CMHC, Waterloo Region is building below its municipal housing construction targets set by the province. To make matters worse, 56 per cent of new homes being built in Waterloo Region are apartments, but WRAR’s poll shows that millennials, boomers, and all residents strongly prefer more spacious single-detached homes.
“There is a strong disconnect right now in Waterloo between what home buyers are looking for and the new supply coming to the market,” said Bell. “Waterloo has to do a better job of encouraging the building of a greater array of affordable housing options.”
Thankfully, according to WRAR’s poll, a strong majority of residents (63%) and boomers/millennials (68%, 68%) support the building of more missing middle housing in Waterloo Region — housing that can provide most of the features of single-detached housing, if well designed.
“Residents know we need to build more housing and they support more gentle density,” said Bell. “Growth does not have to be a debate between building single-detached homes and high-rise apartments. Elected officials must turn their attention to policies that will make it easier to build semi-detached, row, duplex, triplex and fourplex style housing.”
To build more missing middle housing, WRAR is putting several ideas on the table with the Region of Waterloo & local councils, including:
- Rolling back exclusionary (i.e., single-family) zoning to allow for row, duplex, triplex and fourplex style housing.
- Reducing parking minimums in areas rezoned to permit more missing middle housing. In Kitchener for example, multi-residential building requires 1 to 1.4 parking spots per dwelling unit, depending on where the buildings is located in the city. These spots add thousands of dollars in costs and take away space for more homes.
- Actioning key recommendations coming out of the City of Kitchener’s “Enabling Missing Middle and Affordable Housing” Feasibility Study adopted May 2023.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Tania Benninger, Operations Manager
The Waterloo Region Association of REALTORS®️ (WRAR) represents over 2,400 REALTORS® and 179 firms within Waterloo Region. WRAR serves as a collective voice for both its commercial and residential REALTOR® Members and operates under the direction of an elected voluntary Board of Directors. Together, we work to ensure local REALTORS® are given the support and resources needed to navigate the growing real estate market within one of Canada’s fastest-growing and thriving communities—Waterloo Region.
WRAR is proud to be participating in the MIST working group—which is part of the research project, ‘Why did the “MIssing Middle” misS the Train? Exploring barriers and solutions to intensified family housing in Waterloo Region” (MIST). The working group brings together stakeholders from across the housing system in Waterloo Region, to understand and address gaps in the missing middle housing in Waterloo Region.
ABOUT THE RESEARCH:
The Waterloo Region Matters Survey, previously known as the Waterloo Regional Area Survey, has been conducted by the Survey Research Centre since 1998 as a partnership between community and academic researchers. The omnibus study allows partners to pool resources to conduct a larger, higher quality survey at a reduced cost than each would be able to conduct individually. The 2023 wave of research included researchers from the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo Region Immigration Partnership, Waterloo Region Association of Realtors, and Hospice Waterloo Region.
The goal of this survey was to obtain a random sample of residents in Waterloo Region to complete the omnibus survey by telephone and to include a panel of previously recruited Waterloo Region Matters Survey respondents (previously recruited through random digit dialing telephone numbers) to complete the omnibus survey online.
Survey data collection took place from May 15 to July 3, 2023. A total of 225
surveys were completed over the telephone and 275 were completed online.
The Waterloo Region Association of REALTORS®️ (WRAR) is a new association that has been formed through the recent amalgamation between the Cambridge Association of REALTORS®️ and Kitchener-Waterloo Association of REALTORS®️. We have a new name, a fresh start, but the same awesome REALTOR®️ community—just better together! While WRAR officially began offering member services on August 1, 2022, the two previous associations have over 150 years of combined experience. We are proud to support the needs of REALTORS®️ and brokerages serving one of Canada’s fastest growing and thriving communities—Waterloo Region.
The term REALTOR®️ is a trademark identifying members in good standing of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) who provide real estate brokerage services in compliance with CREA’s By-Laws and Rules, the REALTOR®️ Code, and all applicable federal and provincial laws and regulations. WRAR’s MLS®️ System is operated in association with the MLS®️ marks owned by CREA. An MLS®️ System includes an inventory of listings of participating REALTORS®️, and ensures a certain level of accuracy of information, professionalism, and co-operation amongst REALTORS®️ to affect the purchase and sale of real estate.