Affordable housing project stalled, request for funding denied by federal government

·3 min read

HURON COUNTY – The Director of Social and Property Services, Barbara Hall, presented some unfortunate news to Huron County council on Dec. 15, telling them that a second funding request submitted to the federal government has been denied.

The federal government created the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) to expedite the delivery of affordable housing units to vulnerable people and populations identified under the National Housing Strategy.

In December 2020, the county applied for the first phase of RHI funding under the Projects Stream.

“Our application consisted of a two-storey apartment building with 20 one-bedroom units and the proposed site was located in South Huron on a parcel of land owned by the county under the Local Housing Corporation. Unfortunately, we were not successful in our application,” Hall’s report said.

The report stated that the county applied for the second round of funding in August 2021.

“Only eligible applicants with projects that were not funded during the first round of RHI were given the opportunity to revise and resubmit their original applications. This included municipal, provincial and territorial governments; Indigenous governing bodies and organizations; and, non-profit organizations.”

On Nov. 29, the federal government advised the county that their RHI2 application was not successful.

The report went on to say, “We were advised that the RHI2 program has generated significant interest across Canada, resulting in many quality applications which required a critical assessment of all applications and unfortunately, after careful review, that the federal government was unable to offer financial support for our project.”

Warden Glen McNeil expressed his disappointment, saying that this “wasn’t exactly good news, however sometimes in business things don’t always turn out the way we hope for.”

“It was not because of the lack of effort or expertise…Barbara did an excellent job,” McNeil said. “We are very appreciative of that, however, this is the decision.”

Responding to a question from Coun. Robert Fisher, who asked if it was denied because of the size of Huron County’s project, Hall said, “I don’t necessarily think it was based on the size, I know from the first go-round, not many service managers were selected – only two were selected.”

She went on to say that the government received “hundreds and hundreds” of applications which made it an extremely competitive process.

Not to be deterred, council requested a report to be brought back to them on Jan. 5 to look into funding the project themselves, as they recognize that affordable and supportive housing is critically important within the community.

A capital budget will be prepared and identify potential county funding resources.

In addition, an operational budget will be prepared based on identified tenant populations and the range of rents that may be charged; operational costs to run the building; costing for supportive services to assist tenants who require support services to maintain their housing stability.

The operational costs will assist in determining the financial viability of the building and provide information regarding projected costing to operate the facility on an annual basis.

The county plans to continue with the proposed affordable housing project. It will continue to seek opportunities to fund the project, even if they have to find the money in their budget.

Hall’s report said that the proposed capital and operational budgets would provide information regarding costs to construct and operate the building.

The report will provide information regarding capital funding sourcing and operational and supportive services potential funding sources.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times

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