The Housing Again Bulletin, sponsored by Raising the Roof as a partner in Housing Again.
A monthly electronic bulletin highlighting what people are doing to put housing back on the public agenda across Canada and around the world, sponsored by Raising the Roof as part of the Housing Again partnership.
News for November, 2005
Sweet New Affordable Housing in New Brunswick
St. Stephen, New Brunswick
The Government of Canada and the Province of New Brunswick recently announced a contribution of $260,000 for a new affordable housing project targeting non-elderly singles in St. Stephen. Located on Milltown Blvd, the project is unique as it is located in the former Ganong Chocolate Factory, which was built in the late 1800s, and has been restored to maintain its architectural history.
Heritage Chocolate Inc. is constructing eight new housing units inside the building, which currently houses office space and market rate apartments. The project received $100,000 in federal funding to offset the construction costs, which totalled $457,000, as well as $160,000 in 10-year rent supplements from the Province of New Brunswick for four of the eight units.
“We have created a mixed-use building, which will accommodate people from a variety of income levels,” said company spokesperson Ryan Carpenter, who operates the family-run business.
“We have opened up the ceilings, restored the brick, and kept the original feel of the architectural design,” Carpenter told Housing Again. “The apartments are beautiful and we have room for more.”
St. Stephen’s is officially known as Canada’s “chocolate town” with an annual chocolate festival. Located along the historic St. Croix River, the town has a population of 5,000 and borders the state of Maine.
The Canada–New Brunswick Affordable Housing Agreement involves investments of over $45 million in the creation of affordable housing units in New Brunswick.
Heritage Chocolate Inc. is the 24th project to be announced for funding under the Canada–New Brunswick Affordable Housing Agreement. These projects represent a total of 428 new construction housing units in New Brunswick, involving 290 new rent supplement units.
Urban Development Agreement Helps Build Affordable Housing in Vancouver
The first pilot housing project completed under a unique urban development agreement opened recently in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Signed on March 9, 2000, the Vancouver agreement is an urban development initiative of the governments of Canada, British Columbia and Vancouver. The goals of the agreement are to increase economic development and improve the health and public safety of the area residents. Minister of State (Infrastructure and Communities) John Godfrey is supportive of this type of agreement and hopes to be able to sign more municipalities up before another election is called.
An urban development agreement is a partnership between federal, provincial and municipal governments to collaborate when addressing broad urban development issues, such as inner city revitalization, strengthened innovation, or sustainable economic development. Currently there are agreements in place in Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver, and a more limited one for Toronto’s waterfront. Each agreement is tailored to address the needs of the city it involves.
The first focus of the agreement in Vancouver is the Downtown Eastside because of the serious economic, social and public safety challenges found in the community—Canada’s poorest neighbourhood.
Four strategies, each with an array of projects and initiatives, were developed to achieve these goals, including economic development and job creation; dismantling the area’s open drug scene; turning problem hotels, particularly those that offer single-room-occupancy housing, into safe, clean places to live; and making the community safer for those most vulnerable, particularly women, youth and children.
The Silver and Avalon Hotel project was a partnership initiative between the three levels of government and the Angelicola family, who has owned the hotel for 30 years. The project provides 86 units of affordable housing for those at risk of homelessness in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/News/nere/2005/2005-10-12-1300.cfm
Under the agreement, the federal government contributed $1.1 million to upgrade the building through CMHC’s Residential Rehabilitation Program, as well as $36,000 through Western Economic Diversification Canada. The provincial government, through BC Housing, provided $255,000 for the on-site support worker provided by the Lookout Emergency Aid Society.
One of the objectives of the Vancouver agreement is to improve living conditions in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside by enhancing the quality of accommodation and supporting the long-term tenure of residents in single room occupancy hotels, many of which deal with addiction and mental illness. Based on the success of the Silver and Avalon, plans are underway to expand the program.
“This is a good example of how working together can bring results,” said Vancouver Deputy Mayor Ellen Woodsworth. “Creating stable, affordable and safe housing is vital to sustaining healthy and inclusive communities and cities.”
New Deputy Minister Promises New National Housing Framework Soon
Munir Sheikh, the new Deputy Minister for Housing and Homelessness, met with Canadian Housing and Renewal Association recently to talk about the forthcoming National Housing Framework and the $1.7 billion promised within Bill C-48 for housing. Sheikh confirmed that discussions were underway with the provinces on the delivery of the new money. Each province has been asked to suggest quick start projects, which could be committed in the next few months. The DM also said that some of the funding would be used for an Aboriginal housing program, which is expected to be announced next month when first ministers meet in B.C.
As for the National Housing Framework, it is expected that a report will go to Cabinet in the next few weeks and announcements are expected on the framework and the continuation of RRAP and SCPI in the next few months. www.chra-achru.ca
Toronto Launches New Affordable Housing Office
Newly appointed members of the City of Toronto’s new affordable housing committee, chaired by Councillor Georgio Mammoliti, met for the first time last month. The new office assumes responsibility for affordable housing policy, research and advocacy and the direct funding support functions. Although planning decisions remain within the purview of the planning department, the new office is still expected to untangle the strings that often keep shovels from breaking ground on new affordable housing.
“The creation of a special affordable housing committee will definitely speed up the creation of more affordable housing in Toronto,” said Director of Partnerships Responsible for Government Relations Sean Goetz-Gadon, who was most recently Mayor David Miller’s Special Housing Advisor. He is also the current President of Raising the Roof. www.toronto.ca
Hats Off..... It's Toque Time!
Raising the Roof’s Toque Tuesday Campaign, will be launched on November 22—National Housing Day. This is a national campaign that gives people from all walks of life the chance to raise funds, raise fun, and raise awareness in the fight against homelessness in Canada. Buy your special Raising The Roof toque in exchange for a minimum $10 donation to support programs and initiatives, which help make a difference in the lives of thousands of men, women and children who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Then, proudly wear your toque on Toque Tuesday - February 7th, 2006 - to show your commitment to preventing and eliminating homelessness. www.raisingtheroof.org/tp-toque-index.cfm
A variety of community events will be held on November 22 across Canada, including concerts, rallies and parties. For links to community orgs: sharedlearnings.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Dir.dspSearchForm
On December 8, Raising the Roof will be launching its new Youth Works initiative, which will address the issue of homelessness among Canada’s youth. Raising the Roof will be working with three community organizations, including The Back Door in Calgary, Eva’s Phoenix in Toronto and Choices for Youth in St. John’s. Direct Energy is the lead sponsor in this initiative, providing $100,000 per year for three years to support Youth Works. Watch for more detailed information in the December issue of Housing Again..