Housing crisis

Housing crisis in KW could give London’s fledgling tech industry an edge

KITCHEN-

The pressures of high demand and limited supply in the housing market are hampering the tech sector’s efforts to recruit top talent to Kitchener-Waterloo.

MORE: Waterloo Region’s housing crisis could affect the tech industry

The region’s booming tech sector is known to attract entrepreneurs and workers from around the world.

But now that housing prices are exorbitant and available houses are scarce, recruitment has accelerated.

“For tech founders, it’s really clear,” said Matthew Bondy, vice president of external relations at Kitchener-Waterloo-based Communitech. “Their top priorities are talent, talent and talent. When you’re looking at a 35% year-over-year appreciation in house prices, that’s really concerning in the long term.”

Some wonder if the housing crisis could drive workers to more affordable communities.

“I see this as an advantage for businesses in and around London, due to the affordability of housing, lifestyle and opportunity,” said Christina Fox, CEO of TechAlliance, a regional innovation hub for London and its surroundings.

London is not immune to the housing crisis, but the impact has not been as severe as in Kitchener-Waterloo. The average detached house costs $250,000 less in the London area and the average flat costs around $100,000 less.

“We’re ripe for relocation, for anyone looking outside of where they currently live,” Fox said.

Local tech leaders say despite the housing problem, they’re confident Kitchener-Waterloo’s tech industry remains strong.

“The tech ecosystem is important,” Bondy said. “The same goes for educational institutions, as well as economic development, as well as tourism and social service agencies.”