Find Affordable Housing

There are thousands of affordable housing units in Waterloo Region but as in many communities, demand is high. Applicants are placed on a wait list. Before applying, the Renter's Toolkit can help you look for and budget for a place to live in the private rental market.

As COVID-19 recovery continues, Community Services is re-opening its Welcome Spaces and resuming in-person service. However, things look a little different as we work together to stay healthy. Find out what you should know before you visit. If you have a question about the community housing process or your place on the wait list, please email chac@regionofwaterloo.ca

How to apply

Our Community Housing Access Centre processes all applications. We make offers for housing and keep your information up to date so that housing providers can reach you when a unit becomes available.

There are three ways to apply for affordable housing:


Types of affordable housing

The Region of Waterloo oversees 5,600 affordable housing units; learn about the types below. You can also view the properties in our affordable housing catalogue or see the full listing of properties in the print version of the Building Selection Form.

Co-ops
Tenants are members of the co-op community they live in and are required to help maintain it.
Non-profit
These properties are owned by service clubs, faith groups, ethnic organizations, community agencies or municipal governments.
Waterloo Region Housing
These properties are owned and managed by the Region. There are over 2,700 units in the region's cities and townships.
Rent supplement programs
Tenants pay what they can afford to, and live in units owned by landlords in the private market. The Region gives funds to the landlord to cover the difference.
Below average market rent
These are private landlords who have a certain number of units in their buildings that they charge lower rent for.

Who is eligible

To qualify for affordable housing:

  • At least one person living with you is 16 or older and can live on their own
  • You (and anyone living with you) are a Canadian citizen or have made a claim for permanent resident or refugee claimant status
  • There is no removal order under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act against you or anyone living with you
  • You do not owe money for rent/damages to a housing provider or you have an approved re-payment agreement in place
  • No one living with you has a conviction for any offences related to housing assistance
  • You do not already own a home suitable for year-round living
  • Your gross yearly household income is not more than the limit. The limits by bedroom size are in the table below.

Annual Household Income Limits, effective January 1, 2022
Unit type Housing in Wellesley, Wilmot Township Housing in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, North Dumfries, Woolwich Township
Bachelor $25,500 $32,000
1 Bedrooms $31,500 $41,500
2 Bedrooms $38,500 $49,000
3 Bedrooms $42,000 $58,000
4+ Bedrooms $50,000 $74,500

 


How vacancies are filled

How vacancies are filled depends on your situation; see below for priorities and the criteria for each. Please call us to discuss your options before you apply.

Victims of domestic violence

Victims of domestic violence can receive special priority for affordable housing. You may qualify if:

  • You or someone you live with has been abused;
  • The abusing individual is or was living with the victim or is sponsoring the victim as an immigrant or has in the last three months; and
  • The victim intends to permanently separate from the abusing individual.

To apply for special priority, please fill out the affordable housing application, Request for Special Priority for Victims of Domestic Violence, and the building selection form.

Victims of human trafficking

Victims of human trafficking can receive special priority for affordable housing. You may qualify if:

  • You or someone you live with is experiencing human trafficking; or
  • You or someone you live with experienced human trafficking in the past but less than three months has passed since it stopped.

To apply for special priority, please fill out the affordable housing applicationRequest for Special Priority for Victims of Human Trafficking, and the building selection form.

Terminally ill
If you or someone you live with has been medically diagnosed with a terminal illness and have a life expectancy of two years or less, you can apply for terminally ill status. Please fill out the affordable housing applicationbuilding selection formRequest for Terminally Ill Priority and the Medical Form.
Over-housed

The number of bedrooms you qualify for depends on the number of people living with you. If are in affordable housing now and a person you live with moves out, you may need to move to a smaller unit. If you would like to stay in the same building, and your building has a unit you qualify for, you can go on a waiting list for a transfer.

If your building does not have the right unit size, you would work with us and your housing provider to find another building.

To apply for over-housed status, please fill out and submit the affordable housing application and the building selection form.

You will be placed on the waiting list for units you qualify for, and will need to choose at least ten possible sites.

Local statuses

If you have lived in the Region of Waterloo for the last 12 consecutive months and have a low income, you may qualify for one of the three local waiting list status categories below.

 

1. Homeless - If your household is currently unsheltered for one of the following reasons, you may  qualify for this status:

  • are living on the street (no shelter), OR
  • are using the emergency shelter system as your primary residence; OR
  • have a home that has recently been destroyed by fire or natural disaster (within the last 3 months); OR
  • are waiting to get out of hospital, or another treatment facility, cannot return to your previous residence, and will not be released until you find suitable housing.

To apply, complete the Request for Homeless Status and Housing Search forms and submit them with your affordable housing application.

 
2. Separated Families - If your household has children in the care of Family and Children’s Services of Waterloo Region that will not be returned until adequate housing is found and housing is the only remaining protection issue, you might qualify for this local status.

To apply, complete the Request for Separated Families Status and Housing Search forms and submit them with your affordable housing application.

 

3. Escaping Violence - If you have applied for Special Priority Status for Victims of Domestic Violence, but are unable to provide proof of co-habitation or are experiencing exceptional risk due to criminal activity, you might qualify for this local status.


To apply, complete Request for Escaping Violence Status and Housing Search forms and submit them with your affordable housing application.

 

4. Sunnyside priority - If you are 60 years or older and have a direct family member living at Sunnyside Home, you may receive priority for a unit there. To qualify, you must:

  • Apply through the Community Housing Access Centre;

  • Qualify for rent-geared-to-income assistance; and

  • Include a letter with your application that confirms your spouse, partner, parent, sibling, or child lives at Sunnyside Home, and that you have an active role in the life and care of this person.

To apply for Sunnyside priority, please fill out and submit the affordable housing application and the building selection form.


Frequently asked questions

If you have a question or concern about affordable housing that is not answered here, please give us a call so we can help you.

How long will I wait for affordable housing?

As in many communities, the demand for affordable housing is high in Waterloo Region.  How long you wait can depend on how many properties you choose on your application and their popularity. If you have been granted priority status, you will be housed sooner than applicants who do not have this status.

How do I keep my application active?
Call 519-575-4400 or update your application online if any information you gave to us on your application changes. This includes:
  • Your address
  • Your phone number
  • The number of people living with you
  • Your income
  • Your housing preferences
Can I choose where I want to live?
If you are applying for priority you can choose several locations from the Building Selection Form that you submit with your application. 
Can I choose what building I want to live in on the application?
No, but you can choose which city or township you would like to live in and how many bedrooms you need (based on the number of people in your household).
When can I choose which building I want to live in?
If you have not been granted priority status, as you get closer to the top of the wait list for housing we will contact you and set up a time to meet to help you explore your building options. In the meantime, we encourage you to browse the housing catalogue.
Are there seniors-only buildings available?
Yes, to apply for a unit in a seniors-only building, please fill out the affordable housing application and Building Selection Form for Seniors Sites.
How many bedrooms am I eligible for?
This is based on how many people live with you. Singles and couples would be eligible for a one-bedroom unit, plus an extra bedroom for each person living with them. So if you are a single parent or a couple with one child, you would be eligible for a two-bedroom unit.
If I own property, am I eligible for affordable housing?
Yes, eligibility is based on your income level. However, within six months of receiving a unit, you will need to show proof that you sold your unit. To apply, please fill out the affordable housing application and Declaration of Intent to Sell Property.
How will I receive an offer?

As soon as a unit opens up, you and/or your alternate will be contacted. It is important that you keep all of your information up to date.

If you don't respond within 24-48 hours (varies depending on the building you are offered), your file may be placed on hold until we can confirm your contact information. Even if you aren't interested in the unit that becomes available for you, please let us know so you don't miss out on other offers.

How do I update the information on my application if it changes?

You should let our office know of any changes on your file within 30 days of the change, or your file could be cancelled. Changes you need to let us know about include:

  • Your address
  • Phone number
  • Alternate contacts (in case we can't reach you)
  • Number of people in your family
  • Your landlord's name and phone number
  • Your status in Canada
  • Your household income

To update your information, please fill out and submit the Applicant Information Change form, call the Service First Call Centre at 519-575-4400 or visit a Community Housing Access Centre.

How do I defer my application for community housing?
Please fill out the Request for Deferral of Application Form and send the form to the Community Housing Access Centre by email, fax, mail, or drop off.
How do I remove my name from an application for community housing?

If your name is on an application for community housing and you would like it to be removed from the application, please fill out and submit the Applicant Removal Request Form by email, fax, mail, or drop off. You will receive confirmation from us that your name has been removed.

Please note that when you remove your name from an application with more than one name on it, the application will remain active. 

How do I cancel my application for community housing?

Please notify your designated Housing Co-ordinator of your intention to cancel your housing application in one of three ways: email, fax, or mail/in-person.

Email: If you do not know their email address, please email housingapplication@regionofwaterloo.ca or call 519-575-4400.

Fax: 519-893-8648

Mail/In-Person: You can drop off or mail your written statement to any of the Welcome Spaces at the locations below.

Please address mail to: "Attention: CHAC"

  • 99 Regina St. S., Waterloo, ON N2J 4V3
  • 150 Main St., Cambridge, ON N1R 6P9
  • 235 King St. E., Kitchener, ON N2G 4N5
How many housing offers can I turn down?

Applicants on the wait list will receive one offer for housing.  As of July 1st, 2020, when you receive a housing offer, you will be given the first unit that comes available from the list of units you chose when you applied.  You can no longer turn down the offer of housing.  The change from receiving three offers to one offer of housing is to help people move into housing more quickly.

Please make sure the properties you have chosen are where you would like to live. To add or remove properties from your application, please complete the building selection form

Refusing an offer will result in a loss of subsidy for people already living in subsidized housing. If you are an applicant, you would lose your place on the wait list.  

What if I disagree with the decision that I am not eligible for affordable housing?

If you disagree with a decision about your application, we do recommend that you try to work with the person who made the decision. If you are unable to, you can request a review by completing and sending us the Request for Review form that was mailed to you with your decision letter. If you do not have this form, please call the Community Housing Access Centre at 519-575-4400. Please note that only certain types of decisions are reviewable.

What if I move and sign a lease while I am waiting for affordable housing?
Sometimes applicants find a place to live while they are waiting for affordable housing. Before you make any commitments (such as signing a lease), please contact your Housing Access Coordinator to understand how it may impact your application.
Why are some sites listed as smoke free and how does this affect my application?

Some of the Community Housing sites listed on the application may be designated as smoke free sites. If you accept an offer of one of these units, you will not be able to smoke in your unit or anywhere in the building, if it is an apartment. This does not mean that there are no smokers in the building or that the unit you will be offered was never occupied by someone who was a smoker. It just means that all new tenants will have a smoke free lease.

Sites could become smoke free at any time. It is important that you let us know your preference because if we are not aware and you turn down a unit that is smoke free, the offer will be counted as one of your three offers for affordable housing.

Is my information private?

The Region of Waterloo collects personal information in the Community Housing Application and supporting documents under the Housing Services Act, 2011. The Region uses this information to determine a person's eligibility for housing, continuation of housing, and the appropriate rent-geared-to-income charge. With consent, the Region may exchange personal information in this application with Access Sites and housing providers to arrange a placement or housing assistance. Personal information may also be exchanged between the Region and other institutions where required or allowed by law.

 

Please contact the Community Housing Access Centre if you have any questions about the collection and use of personal information.

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