By Chad Ingram
Published April 19, 2018
Imagine a bustling downtown Minden buzzing with activity, residents coming in and out of apartments perched atop the shops of the main drag.
Imagine, down, say, Bobcaygeon Road, a cluster of tiny houses, providing an affordable alternative to traditional homes, and also an environmentally sustainable one for those seeking to reduce their carbon footprint.
These are some of the ideas being proposed by the Minden Hills Housing Task Force, and they are good ideas.
The lack of housing choices and shortage of affordable housing in the community is no secret. However, just how severe the situation is for renters may be surprising to some.
One of the most striking facts in the task force’s presentation to Minden Hills council last week was what member Fay Martin called “an abysmal mismatch between our people and our housing.”
Much of the rental housing available locally is not what is required. While 76 per cent of rental households consist of one or two people, only six per cent of the rental housing stock includes one-bedroom units. Meanwhile, while just four per cent of rental households in the township are comprised of five or more people, 24 per cent, nearly a full quarter of available rental housing are homes with four or more bedrooms.
As a result, the task force is mostly focused on ways to create more one-bedroom units.
Rentals in the township are also expensive, more expensive than in some of Ontario’s larger cities, such as London and Kingston. With affordable defined as the average market rate, that’s $871 per month for a one-bedroom apartment, $1,075 per month for a two-bedroom, and $1,246 for a three-bedroom unit. That’s not overly affordable in a community where many jobs are seasonal and low-paying. According to the task force’s research, 47 per cent of renters have affordability issues, meaning they spend more than a third of their income keeping a roof above their heads.
When it comes to affordable housing in the county, the status quo is for municipal governments to wait for funding from upper levels of government and then built a multi-unit building. Of course these opportunities don’t occur very often, meaning these projects don’t happen very often, meaning there is a long list of people waiting for housing they can afford.
t’s time for municipal governments to start thinking more creatively about housing solutions, and the task force has offered an idea on the funding front as well; the concept of social bonds. Social bonds would allow community members to invest in housing projects, receiving a return with interest during a given term. In a place with affluent retirees moving to their lakeside residences, retirees who will require a variety of services from a variety of people who will need places to live, it’s a model worth investigating.
All of the concepts being put forth by the housing task force warrant discussion, and residents have an opportunity to learn more and provide input during a consultation session the task force will host on May 19, which is the Saturday of the long weekend. It will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Minden Hills council chambers.