The province has a call out to developers looking to feed Manitoba’s voracious appetite for affordable serious housing.
The government announced recently it is seeking partners to build 140 new units across the province and Brandon is hoping some will be in the city.
"Manitoba’s population is steadily growing and there are more seniors who require safe, affordable homes," said Housing and Community Development Minister Peter Bjornson in a news release. "We are investing $9 million and seeking partners to build homes where seniors can lead full lives in their own communities close to families and friends."
Sandy Trudel, the city’s director of economic development, didn’t want to speculate as to the likelihood that developers will want to build in Brandon, but said the industry has increased interest in filling the affordable housing market gap.
"There’s no question as to the need," she said. "There has been increased interest in private groups as well ... but do they have a land mass that will work and is the development of seniors housing in line with what they want to do?"
Affordable housing for seniors is particularly acute in Brandon, so the province’s call will no doubt be welcomed.
"If you look at any of the existing seniors’ housing facilities considered to be in the affordable realm, there’s extensive waiting lists," Trudel said. "Those waiting lists can go anywhere from six months to 10 years, depending on the complex."
The only complexes with ready availability, Trudel said, are those high-priced units, including the full-service buildings.
"Obviously, affordable housing is a great need within the community."
The new homes will be for low-to moderate-income renters and co-op housing members 55 or older, the minister said. Under this RFP, the province is making up to $65,000 available per unit in southern Manitoba and $75,000 per unit in northern Manitoba, to a maximum of 35 per cent of eligible project costs.
In 2009, the Manitoba government committed to creating 1,500 new affordable homes by 2014. As of Feb. 1, the province had committed funding for 1,443 new affordable homes.
"We value partnerships with nonprofits, the private sector, housing organizations, service groups and community volunteers who can provide appropriate housing options for seniors that best serve local priorities and build on existing community strengths," Bjornson said.
This past summer, a new co-op housing development for low-to-moderate income seniors was officially opened in Brandon and consists of 14 one-bedroom and 20 two-bedroom units. The housing co-op will receive rent supplement assistance from the province to allow six of the units to be rented on a rent-geared-to-income basis.
Meanwhile, the City of Brandon is working with the province to develop recently-acquired land to develop affordable housing as joint proposal request with the province, Trudel said.
"We’ve got our lands designated, but we’ve got a process whereby we have to do a proposal on them."