I write today to share my support and appreciation of Kingston’s newest affordable housing project at 1316 Princess St.
The need for affordable housing in Kingston has long been recognized. With wait times ranging from 6 months to 8 years for affordable housing depending on the style of housing required (City of Kingston, 2023), those who depend on these solutions have frequently been at a loss resulting in increased number of unhoused people across the city. Stories shared by the Queen’s Journal such as that of Brian Geddes, an unhoused Kingstonian, who spend seven months on the waitlist for housing before his file was lost, are all too common (Jarabana, 2023).
While there are numerous reasons for the increasing number of unhoused individuals in Kingston including inflation and an increased cost of living, one of the primary causes for increased rent which pushes out previous tenants is Queen’s university and its dominance of the downtown real-estate market.
As a Kingston local, I have grown up around Queen’s University. My middle and high schools were Module Vanier and formerly KCVI, situated virtually on Queen’s campus so I have a concrete understanding of the lovingly dubbed “student ghetto’. Even during the time that I have observed this neighbourhood, Queen’s students have expanded farther north into neighbourhood that as previously lower socioeconomically speaking. Although this has led to an increase in business in the area, it has undeniably pushed out previous residents, a clear example of gentrification.
The construction of the affordable housing unit at 1316 Princess St. is sadly much needed. Although a more prudent location would be closer to downtown as mental health, addiction, and employment services are primarily concentrated here and are heavily depended on by many residents of affordable housing, this is no longer an option due to the expansion of Queens’ domain.
The location of this newest development is strategically located close to KEYS for employment assistance, and directly on the 501/502 express bus route for transportation downtown and out towards the Cataraqui Center. This location is as good of a compromise as there is, considering the possession of downtown by Queen’s University and developers creating living spaces targeted towards its students.
I currently reside in the Strathcona Park neighbourhood, directly adjacent to 1316 Princess St. Despite the discomfort many of my neighbours have expressed with a new, lower-income population finding residence in the area, if everyone has a “Not In My Backyard” approach to urban issues, none will be resolved and I feel it is important that tenants of the new building are welcomed into the community with open arms.
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