County social services ready to take over affordable housing requests for Guelph

·3 min read

The County of Wellington is equipped and capable of handling the City of Guelph’s affordable housing requests says the head of social services.

Guelph’s committee of the whole unanimously approved having the county issue and evaluate request for proposals (RFPs) regarding affordable and supportive housing projects. This would need to be ratified at a future Guelph council meeting.

The County of Wellington runs social housing, Ontario Works and Children’s Early Years programs for the city through social services.

Eddie Alton, social services administrator, explained to the social services committee the process would still be collaborative with city officials.

“The city is ... counting on our expertise to go through this and evaluate the projects and work together with them on this,” Alton said. “I think it’s a great collaboration so we are still meeting our mandate and working with all the groups that we work with.”

Alton explained this would stop the duplication of groups asking for funds from the county and then the city and instead be coordinated together.

Warden Kelly Linton asked for clarification on what this meant for staff’s workload.

Alton said it would increase slightly but felt it was within the capacity of their current staffing complement.

“If there are any additional costs that are required, the city has agreed we would do that on the cost-sharing arrangement that’s already in place ... if there’s any specific we would just attach it straight to the city’s cost,” Alton said, adding this arrangement would mean one additional RFP for staff each year.

Linton asked Guelph mayor Cam Guthrie why this move was supported by his council.

“I’d like to make sure I understood the benefits politically that your council recognized in moving to what looks like a more streamlined process,” Linton said.

Guthrie explained he doesn’t believe it’s necessarily a political benefit but a benefit to proponents of the RFPs for a clearer process.

“They sometimes don’t know where to go, they hear we are providing money, about $500,000 a year at least, to an affordable housing reserve so they think they have to come to us,” Guthrie said.

“It becomes kind of a confusion for a lot of stakeholders to say ‘where do I go, who does what, can I get money from you or you?’ and we don’t have the staff at all to do any of that criteria work to actually pick it because you guys are the experts.”

CAO Scott Wilson said the city and county have been trying to work more cooperatively over the past few years and this is another example of the partnership they have.

Committee chair David Anderson agreed and said he believed both parties would be pleased with the results.

“Our staff are very capable of doing this so I think it’s a win-win for both sides,” Anderson said.

The committee accepted the report for information.

Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com

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