Monday, April 2, 2007

Hearthstone Manor - Affordable Housing

Anyone who lives up in the Peace Country - or Alberta for that matter, knows that Affordable Housing is a moving target.

Case in point:

The city has been working to build a project called Hearthstone Manor for a few years now. The project is a 40 unit building that would be owned by the city and rented out at rates under what the market rate is.

It would earn a small profit because it would have no mortgage and that would go into building other affordabe housing.

That was the plan anyways...

When the project was originally developed the budget amount was about $4M and the province contributed $50 000 per unit for a total of $2M through a grant program they have. Just 3 months after the City received the grant the provinced upped the program to $150 000 per unit but we couldn't get the difference.

Then the Alberta economy when to work on it and the construction cost ballooned to $9M! All of the sudden it's not looking so affordable, the rents will have to go up and/or the city taxpayer will have to pick up the difference and to top it off there's no more profit to help build more projects.

So today in the Affordable Housing Building Committee meeting we approved going ahead at the new cost. We had to bite the bullet, someone needs to build this.

The real work now is to convince the province that they should up our grant. If we were at the $150 000 per unit that would be $6M! The rents could stay truly affordable, the project would turn a profit to help fund more units and the city taxpayer wouldn't be stuck with the bill.

If the province chooses not to reconsider the funding one has to ask where the Alberta Advantage has gone - the billion dollar surpluses aren't actually doing a lot for the citizens of the province.

I'll keep you updated when we get a response from the new minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Mobile Bill

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