Beyond Housing: Creating Safe and Affordable Spaces in Our Communities

3 minute read

What does ‘safe and affordable housing’ mean to you? For Kindred, it means recognizing the lack of access and opportunities people have to a range of affordable housing options in our communities. Whether from homelessness, rent increases for those on fixed incomes, or the need for adequate housing for newcomers, safe and affordable housing is an urgent need across our communities.

We’re not alone in recognizing this need; we build partnerships with organizations that share our values and concerns. One of those organizations is Beyond Housing (previously MennoHomes), who are passionate about building quality Affordable Housing rental units throughout Waterloo Region.

In 2001, members of the community, notably local Mennonite churches, recognized the need for affordable housing. In response to that need, MennoHomes was created. At that point, there were 3,000 households in Waterloo region who were on a housing waitlist. While that number remained steady, by 2017 the real estate market had taken off and the rental to ownership transition of housing availability suffered. Currently, the waitlist is 8,000 households needing safe and affordable housing! For seniors, that translates to a three-to-five-year waitlist period.

The solution? The first step is to find potential safe and affordable housing sites. Of course, that’s easier said than done. For Beyond Housing, that means reaching out and making connections to churches, congregations, and other faith groups that have underutilized land and recognize the need for affordable housing in their community.

Originally built in the 1980s by the Lutheran, United, and Mennonite churches in St. Jacob’s, Sprucelawn Apartments for Seniors was a perfect solution. Sprucelawn was run by a volunteer board at the time who had the drive and desire to provide more affordable housing, but needed help with the expansion construction. They had the land, and board approval – they just needed guidance on how to take the next step. That’s where Beyond Housing came in. They officially amalgamated with Sprucelawn in late 2021, bringing their experience to help with construction and fundraising.

“The goal of Sprucelawn is to help seniors in our community experience dignity and stability,” explained Dan Driedger, Executive Director at Beyond Housing. “Keeping the rent low provides an appropriate, accessible, and affordable home. We are able to keep rents low because of the sustainable model that is built into our operating costs with the support of a capital campaign.”

Initially, there is a wait for approval from CMHC and the Region of Waterloo; once approval is given, the fundraising starts. However, finding donations is always a challenge. Projects can run five or more years and “people donate to works in progress,” commented Dan, “not buildings with construction already completed. There are still costs to be covered even if the walls are up.”

As with any construction project though, there were challenges. Construction costs rose sharply and the original fundraising goal of $2 million had to be increased to $2.5 million. Currently, the capital campaign sits at $2.3 million, with a final $200,000 in donations required. Sprucelawn provides a total of 58 units of affordable housing for those who need them.

Housing is more than a safe, warm space, and a roof over someone’s head. It’s more than low rent and doing the bare minimum. Dan notes that they are emphasizing the need for accessible units in their buildings – something many affordable spaces lack. Beyond Housing also provides community supports like access to a social worker and community nurse at no cost.

Dan wants people to understand this about them: they are committed to providing more, to going beyond. That’s what it means to go “beyond housing.” Going beyond basic supports and inspire our local communities to create caring communities where each person can thrive in a safe, comfortable, and affordable place they’ll be proud to call home.

Kindred previously made a $250,000 contribution to Beyond Housing’s capital campaign, A Place to Call Home, which was for their Bridgeport project. We are committed to the creation of safe and affordable housing for all and by partnering with organizations like Beyond Housing, we can create unique approaches that help inspire peaceful, just, and prosperous communities.

To learn more about Sprucelawn and Beyond Housing, or how you can support this work, please visit By supporting them through capital fundraising, you can help seniors in our community experience the dignity and stability that comes from having an appropriate, accessible, and affordable home.

Other ways you can help reduce the housing crisis
Our Affordable Housing GIC and loans provide an opportunity for individuals to earn a guaranteed, competitive rate while helping to address the affordable housing crisis in Waterloo Region.

Not-for-profit or for-profit organizations can also help make a difference in affordable housing through our Affordable Housing Loans, partnered with Waterloo Region Community Foundation (WRCF), to develop or provide long-term, permanent affordable housing. These loans are supported by the Affordable Housing GIC impact investment.

Kate Pearce

Kate is passionate about supporting and enabling communities to connect, make an impact, and thrive through the development of strong, trusting partnerships. Through her work, Kate turns commitments into action and works to bring Kindred’s purpose to life.

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