Huron County approves shortlist for affordable housing

·3 min read

HURON COUNTY – Huron County councillors voted to move forward with prioritizing locations to build affordable housing with wrap-around supportive services, choosing from four options presented to them at the July 6 regular council meeting.

A special council meeting will be held on July 27, where staff will present more detailed reports on the chosen options.

Denise Van Amersfoort, manager of planning, and Barbara Hall, director of social and property services, were on hand to answer councillors’ questions after they presented their report.

The Housing Renewal Plan provided options for new county investment in affordable housing, and additional opportunities involving supportive housing. These were prioritized by type (does this building address most critical community housing needs), scale (measure of impact to address need/reduce waitlists), and expediency (how quickly could the building be built and occupied).

Council chose two options for staff to provide more detailed information after the discussion portion of the meeting, not ruling out the other locations but prioritizing the most beneficial places to get shovels in the ground.

Option 1: 39-unit apartment with 10 supportive units on Gibbons Street, Goderich

A 39-unit apartment containing 10 supportive units is proposed for the former Victoria Public School property in Goderich, located on Gibbons Street. The Town of Goderich owns the subject property. County staff have, as directed by county council, had discussions with the Goderich staff, and they are supportive of this site being proposed. The units would be a mix of one- and two-bedroom units. They would comprise a blend of socio-economic households, including individuals from the county’s by-name list, rent geared to income (RGI), and affordable units. Tenants of the supportive units would be provided with ‘wrap-around supports’ to help ensure a successful tenancy.

The property would require a land transfer from the Town of Goderich and planning approvals.

It is estimated this option would cost approximately $20.4 million, plus operating costs for supportive service delivery.

Option 2: Supportive housing, 10-unit facility (location unconfirmed at this time)

This proposed facility would be for individuals identified on the county’s by-name list and include offices for agencies and medical appointments, as well as communal spaces for gatherings. In addition, tenants would have independent living units (i.e., individual kitchens, washrooms, etc.) and be provided with ‘wrap-around supports’ to help ensure a successful tenancy.

This option fits a dispersed supportive housing model (i.e., having several smaller facilities throughout the county rather than one large facility). A supportive housing build meets multiple priorities of county council by providing stable, year-round support to homeless members of our community and shifting away from the temporary shelter model over time.

It is estimated this option would cost approximately $5.2 million, plus operating costs for supportive service delivery.

With both of these options, the county would be in a position to apply to Ontario Health for clinician support once a commitment to a physical build is made. If approved, funding is permanent.

Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times

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