May 29, 2024

The provincial and federal government have announced more than $1.4 million to support the construction of 21 affordable housing units in an old church in Waterloo Region. 

That funding, announced on Sept. 8, was allocated to the Historic St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. The site is located in the downtown Kitchener area, on the corner of Queen and Church Street.

The new six-storey residential building will include 57 affordable housing units, all targeted towards low-income seniors. 

Rendered images of the Historic St. Paul’s Church Project Courtesy of https://www.historicstpauls.ca/affordable-housing

Since 1835, St. Paul’s has been a pillar of the community. In Nov. 2019, the members of the church began to explore new ways the church property could further benefit local residents. 

Josh Lavallee, the Chairman of Historic St. Paul’s Not for Profit Corporation told Spoke, “after serving the members of the community through our Community Cupboard program, it became super clear the need for affordable housing, as far as senior care goes.” 

The need for affordable housing in Kitchener has become a prominent issue for the city, with over 10,000 people on the Region’s waiting list. Currently, there are 2,700 affordable units owned by the Region. 

“Hopefully we will be taking people off the waiting list,” City Councillor Jim Erb says. 

“Last year, we also funded affordable housing for senior citizens at Parkwood Mennonite Home in Waterloo, Erb says, “and that was funding that came from the provincial and federal government.” 

Parkwood is set to be completed in 2024, with 28 out of the 90 units being affordable senior housing. 

Similar initiatives include downtown’s St. Mark’s Lutheran Church conversion into a 40 affordable unit building, and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church with 41 units. 

“We’re hopeful that there will be another allocation again this coming year of around 2 million dollars, that we will be able to distribute to other applicants,” Erb stated. 

Lavallee says that of the 57 units in the St. Paul’s Church Project, all will be affordable housing with varying rates based on the median of rentals in the area when the project is completed. 

Archaeological studies being done on St. Paul’s, located on the corner of Queen and Church Street. (August 11, 2023). Courtesy of https://www.historicstpauls.ca/affordable-housing 

The average cost of a one-bedroom has risen seven per cent in the last year in the city of Kitchener, with the average apartment now costing $1,944 a month. 

Currently, the average cost of a retirement home in the city ranges from $3,000 to $5,000 a month, with long-term care ranging from $2,100 to $3,000 a month. 

The project construction is expected to start at the end of this year and the target date of completion is 2024.   

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