Affordable housing

Use this page to learn more about affordable housing initiatives to increase the number of affordable housing units in the City of Waterloo.

To apply to live in affordable housing, check availability, or get on a waitlist, visit the Region of Waterloo's website.

On this page

  1. About the Affordable Rental Housing Grant Program
  2. Apply for a community improvement plan grant
  3. Get a development charge deferral
  4. Apply for other incentive programs
  5. Build a second residential unit
  6. Learn more about our affordable housing strategy

About the Affordable Rental Housing Grant Program

The 2024 program application closed on May 31 2024.

City Council approved an Affordable Rental Housing Grant Program in June 2022. The program aims to help not-for-profits offset some of the capital costs (including fees and charges) of creating and/or retaining affordable housing units through a grant.  

A complete overview of the program’s requirements and eligible work can be found in the Affordable Rental Housing Grant Program Policy M-010 (PDF).

Apply for an uptown Community Improvement Plan (CIP) grant

Tax increment grants for affordable housing are available as part of our community improvement plan for the uptown area.

If you expand or redevelop a building to include at least 10 affordable housing units, you may be eligible to save 50 percent off the incremental property tax increase.

The grant lasts from 6 to 10 years based on the features of the building.

Visit our CIP page or contact for more details.

Get a development charge deferral

According to the Development Charges Act, section 26.1, not-for-profit organizations planning to build rental properties can spread out the payment of development charges over a 21-year period, commencing on the date when occupancy is granted.

The City of Waterloo does not charge interest on this type of deferred payments. Proof of non-profit status is required to qualify.

Application is not required; the legislation permits this deferral as the default payment type.

Apply for other incentive programs

Other organizations and agencies offer incentives to help build and maintain affordable housing.

Region of Waterloo

The Region of Waterloo has several programs that may apply to affordable housing projects in the City of Waterloo. These include:

  • capital grants
  • secondary suite funding
  • rent supplements for landlords
  • development charge grants
  • property tax breaks

Visit the Region of Waterloo's affordable housing incentives page for details.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)

CMHC offers a range of capital grants and loans that provide low/no interest or forgivable loans for builders of affordable housing. View the CMHC website for information about these opportunities.

Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC)

In Ontario, the Assessment Act provides a full exemption from property tax to various charitable and non-profit organizations.  For example, section 12 of the Assessment Act provides for a property tax exemption for “land owned, used and occupied by…any charitable, non-profit philanthropic corporation organized for the relief of the poor if the corporation is supported in part by public funds.”

Non-profit affordable housing providers that meet this definition may be eligible for a property tax exemption. Interested providers can file an appeal with the city (S.357(1)(c)) with justification. The city will then forward the appeal to MPAC for a decision. 

Build a second residential unit

The City of Waterloo allows the creation of a second dwelling unit within single detached, freehold semi-detached and freehold townhouse dwellings subject to Section 3.S.1 of Zoning By-law 2018-050. View the zoning bylaw.

A building permit is required. View the building page to apply for a permit for home renovations and additions.

A rental license is also required if the second unit is proposed to be used for rental purposes. View the rental licences page to learn the requirements and to apply.

Learn more about our Affordable Housing Strategy

The Affordable Housing Strategy is currently under development. 

It will identify actions to protect the existing affordable housing stock and increase the supply of new affordable housing.

Find project updates, documents and ways to participate on Engage Waterloo.