Five properties in the city of Brandon have been identified as future sites for affordable housing projects.
The city, in partnership with the province, will be seeking interested not-for-profit groups to help develop the new sites.
"Brandon’s a growing city, lots of young families here, lots of people that need good housing," Premier Greg Selinger said. "We’d like to be part of that solution."
Selinger made the announcement on Monday at Prairie Oasis Seniors Centre in Brandon. It’s the first step toward the Budget 2014 promise to build another 500 affordable and 500 social housing units across the province over the next three years.
The city will contribute the property at no cost, while Manitoba Housing and Community Development will provide funding for the affordable housing projects.
"Because of that excellent partnership with the City of Brandon, for making available land to us, we’re able to get started here in Brandon on at least another 60 units of housing," Selinger said.
"Free land makes it easier for us to put all our money into the housing side of it."
Selinger pointed out the province completed its 2009 promise of 1,500 affordable and 1,500 social housing units. Local projects include the partnership with the Western Manitoba Seniors Non-Profit Housing Co-Operative and its seniors apartment block on McDiarmid Drive and the Solutions to End Poverty Permanently (STEPP) homes.
Coun. Jan Chaboyer (Green Acres), chair of the city’s poverty committee, was thrilled by what she says is "an incredibly important partnership for the people of Brandon."
"What we are doing is fulfilling our need for affordable housing, which was something that was clearly indicated to council … three and a half years ago when we were first elected as council," Chaboyer said. "This is just another step forward."
The city’s Affordable Housing First Land Policy allowed council to designate city-owned property for the development of affordable housing.
The properties identified include: 231 Rosser Ave. East; 255 Frederick St.; 1345 10th St. and 2105 Brandon Ave. The fifth property is an amalgamation of land behind the new YMCA — 705 Lorne Ave., 709 Lorne Ave. and 244 Seventh St.
Chaboyer said she is hoping for proposals ranging from seniors housing to student housing and family housing.
"Right now, there are families that are struggling on incomes less than $50,000 for a family income," Chaboyer said. "Also, there are seniors that are just living on old age security, and there’s also those folks in the community that we’re trying to integrate more and more … those on disability."
Brandon East NDP MLA Drew Caldwell said the province is continuing on with "solid partnerships" within the community to address housing needs.
"We still have a lot of work to do, but having this new tranche of provincial support guarantees that we’re going to continue to build affordable housing," Caldwell said.
Sandy Trudel, the city’s director of economic development, has been working on the affordable housing file for the past few years. She said this partnership between the city and province will be "huge" in helping the affordable housing strategy come to fruition.
"When you look at affordable housing, there’s two key elements for success — land and sufficient funding," she said. "In the past what’s often happened is a call for proposal will go out, but there’s no land available. Or, there’s land available, but there’s no funding available."
Trudel said the partnership brings both the funding and the land together for all five parcels of land.
"It should streamline the process for not-for-profits, which should … mean that the units are coming into the marketplace sooner and consistently," she said.
The city and province are working on finalizing the content of the call for proposals. Once that is completed, a call for expression of interest will be issued.
"If there are any not-for-profit groups out in the marketplace that might be interested, it would be very helpful for them to let me know that, so that I make sure they’re on the list," Trudel said.
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