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Ottawa commits $7.5M for affordable housing in west London

From left to right: Ward 11 Coun. Stephen Turner, Mayor Ed Holder, MP Kate Young and MP Peter Fragiskatos. Andrew Graham/Global News

Construction is set to begin in spring 2021 on a development in west London, Ont., that will result in 61 new affordable housing units, thanks in part to federal support totalling $7.5 million.

Officials say they expect people to begin moving in by the end of 2021 and the affordable units should be priced between 60 and 80 per cent of average market rent, which was $1,040 as of October 2019.

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“Simply put: this funding, and this project, will save lives and ultimately improve the lives of those who come to occupy these desperately needed units. Supporting London’s most vulnerable is a cause to which our municipal Council is fiercely committed,” says Mayor Ed Holder.

“We are exceptionally grateful that our commitment to this vital work is shared with equal enthusiasm by the Government of Canada.”

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The federal investment makes up the largest portion of the $17.5-million cost of the project, with a $7.5-million investment through its Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI). The city is contributing $4.3 million and the remainder will come from provincial funding and the city’s Housing Development Corporation.

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Holder, Ward 11 Coun. Stephen Turner, London West MP Kate Young and London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos gathered at 122 Baseline Rd. W. for Wednesday’s announcement.

The location will be the site of the 61-unit modular construction-style building, meaning that it will be constructed elsewhere and assembled on site.

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Craig Cooper, the city’s manager of homeless prevention, says part of the process to fill the units will focus on people who want to live in that particular area.

“We will focus our matching and linking on individuals like that. So it could be anybody that’s living in shelter, it could be unsheltered folks, and it could be people off our social housing wait list and our priority list,” he explained.

Read more: Calgary to receive 176 affordable housing units with federal Rapid Housing Initiative

The four-storey building will also have resources on site for individuals, including social workers.

“We see a lot of different folks in our community that the real need is housing, initially. And so, let’s get people housed. We can work on their support needs around them,” Cooper explained.

“A lot of the outcomes and a lot of the good work that our housing support workers and support agencies do really comes to fruition once people get housed.”

City officials say final renderings of the design of the building will be presented at an as-yet-unscheduled public participation meeting.

Read more: 4 rapid housing projects get funding in Hamilton through federal program

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According to a government release, 13.5 per cent of London households are in “core housing need.” That need is defined as housing that is below standards for adequacy, suitability or affordability and that a household would need to spend at least 30 per cent of its before-tax household income to get housing that meets those standards.

The federal funding is part of Canada’s $1-billion RHI, which aims to create up to 3,000 new, permanent affordable housing units across the country.

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