University of Waterloo researchers to study region's 'missing middle' in housing

The University of Waterloo has received federal funding to examine the lack of family-sized rental apartments in the Waterloo Region.

The school says the funding was awarded to researchers from its Faculty of Environment by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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Waterloo says that the issue has been amplified during the affordable housing crisis as there is a lack of low-rise multi-bedroom apartments, row houses, and townhomes for rent.

“These kinds of units are referred to as ‘the missing middle,’” professor Dawn Parker said.

She explained that having more suitable options for growing families along places like the central transit corridor would also help the region meet its carbon reduction targets.

The researchers will work with developers, the community and public officials as they attempt to find the issues and solutions surrounding “the missing middle.”

“We are so excited and grateful to the many partners who have been willing to come to the table to collaboratively explore potential solutions to our deeply complex local housing challenges,” Parker said.

“Our research builds on our previous productive partnerships and adds valuable new collaborators in the for-profit and non-profits development sectors.”

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The university says that the area is the perfect place to study the situation as it recently launched the ION LRT transit system which was intended to intensify land use.

It has also generated $2.6 billion in investment, including many high-rise buildings, while housing became less affordable.

“Developers primarily built single bedroom units to maximize margins,“ Parker said.

“These units served the region’s young tech sector workers but failed to meet the needs of families, who are being pinched by increasing demand for a finite number of detached and semi-detached homes.”

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