Ottawa's planning and housing committee has approved a plan to spend $110 million over the next three years on affordable housing, but not without hearing concerns that the city needs more than three times that amount.
The money earmarked Wednesday is capital funding the city gives to not-for-profit agencies it partners with to build affordable housing units, often with supportive services attached.
It includes housing money from both the federal and provincial governments.
While he was pleased his fellow committee members approved the spending plan, Coun. Jeff Leiper noted demand far exceeds the $110 million being provided.
"Our affordable housing provider partners have projects that they would like to build," said Leiper, the committee's chair.
"But at this point the funding is uncertain to actually move ahead and build the units."
A rendering of Ottawa Community Housing's Mikinàk project, which will get some of the $110 million in funding once it's approved by city council. (Ottawa Community Housing)
Construction costs have soared
In order to meet the demand, the city would need to invest an additional $375 million, said director of housing services Paul Lavigne.
"If we had that extra money, it would go a long way to advancing our goals, based on the number of projects that we have ready," said Lavigne.
A major challenge highlighted during the meeting was the staggering increase in construction costs, which staff said have risen 51 percent since 2020.
The impact, they said, is that the $110 million will be used in part to build 133 new units and also as contingency funding for 408 units already under construction.
The committee should explore ways to work with the federal government to convert vacant government office space into affordable housing, said Mary Huang, president of the Centretown Community Association.
"There's a lot of people who are struggling," said Huang, the only public delegation to speak at Wednesday's meeting, in an interview with CBC.
"There's people sleeping rough in encampments, behind community gardens, in exits of condo buildings."
Mary Huang, president of the Centretown Community Association, spoke Wednesday in support of the committee's affordable housing strategy update. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)
The list of affordable housing projects that will benefit from this funding include:
Ottawa Community Housing Corporation's project for 715 Mikinak Rd., on the former Canadian Forces Base Rockcliffe lands.
Ottawa Salus Corporation's construction of 54 supportive housing units at 56 Capilano Dr. in the Fisher Heights neighbourhood.
Nepean Housing Corporation's completion of a project at 1 Dunbar Court near Hunt Club Road and Greenbank Road.
The Multifaith Housing Initiative on LeBreton Flats, which would add 133 affordable rental units there.
Full city council must still approve the affordable housing strategy, which is expected to happen on Sept. 13.