The Association of Municipalities of Ontario gives out the PJ Marshall award each year to a municipal government creating innovative solutions to local problems.
The PJ Marshall award requires community projects to display innovation, tangible benefits to the community, improved efficiency and the ability for other municipal governments to use the project’s concept.
The City of Kitchener recently won the PJ Marshall award for its 2021 affordable housing plan.
The City of Kitchener acknowledged that Canada is currently in the middle of a housing crisis due to growing financial inequality. The city has therefore formulated a strategic plan with a variety of tactics to address housing access. For example, one project involves working with Reaching Our Outdoor Friends (ROOF), an organization that supports homeless teenagers. The city will be working with ROOF to develop and build 44 units of supportive housing for unhoused youth.
Another project includes working with Young Women Kitchener Waterloo (YWKW) by providing a 50 year lease for 41 units. These units will be used as supportive housing for women experiencing homelessness.
The city will also be taking some creative steps to address affordable housing. For example, Kitchener will invest in the construction of tiny houses, along with backyard suites and tiny homes. These housing options are not only more affordable, but have the added bonus of taking up less space and being much more environmentally sustainable.
Another branch of the city’s plan is further investment in A Better Tent City (ABTC), an initiative that sprung up at Lot 42 last year. Trying to live on the streets takes up a lot of people’s energy and time while shelters have issues many housed people may not notice, such as bag limits. ABTC provides homeless people with stable, private housing in order to ease the mental strain of just trying to survive and avoiding many issues with shelters.
The City of Kitchener has been and will continue working with The Shift, an organization that fights globally for people’s right to housing and to end homelessness, unaffordability and evictions.
The city is working with The Shift to address the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation-supported Demonstration Initiative.
This housing plan was recognized by the PJ Marshall Award for 2021. Some aspects of Kitchener’s housing plan that stood out to the award committee was that it had over 40 action items with concrete plans.
The council also noted that the housing plan states explicitly that housing is a human right. The plan, although it is currently young, has already developed over 100 units of new supportive housing, half of which will be filled by the end of 2021.