City, federal officials announce $9.3M for affordable housing units
Windsor and Essex County will getat least 35 new affordable housing units thanks to more than $9 million in federal funding announced Friday.
Ahmed Hussen, minister of families, children and social development, joined MP Irek Kusmierczyk (L — Windsor-Tecumseh) and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens in announcing the grant, highlighting the need for more affordable housing, especially post-pandemic.
“Let’s not mince words: We have a housing crisis in Windsor-Essex,” said Kusmierczyk.
The $9.3 million will fund at least 35 affordable housing units, city officials said. The money is coming from the city stream of the federal Rapid Housing Initiative, meaning all units will be built within a year.
Debbie Cercone, the city’s executive director for housing and children’s services, said officials hope to have project agreements signed this fall, which starts the clock on getting units built. They will be targeted to people in precarious housing and those at risk of homelessness, including people and families with disabilities and those fleeing domestic violence.
“As we have told Canadians to shelter in place to curb COVID, our homes have become places of sanctuary and refuge in these challenging times,” Hussen said. “But what if you don’t have a safe and affordable place to call home? How can you shelter in place?
“What we understand, even more than before because of COVID, is … housing matters for the economic and social well-being of Canadians.”
Cercone said the locations for the units are not yet finalized, but about 20 per cent of the units will be in the County of Essex while the rest will be built in the City of Windsor. All will be new builds.
Officials made Friday’s announcement at 3100 Meadowbrook Lane, where a 10-storey building, approved in 2018 and currently under construction, is Windsor’s first affordable public housing project in 30 years.
The funding joins about $90 million in other federal funding given to Windsor earlier this year that will be used to help renew and repair the city’s existing affordable housing stock of about 4,700 units.The renew-and-repair project will total about $170 million over almost eight years, and will touch each affordable housing unit under the portfolio of the Windsor Essex Community Housing Corp.
“When we invest in existing units, repair and rejuvenate them, you also extend the lifespan of those housing units,” Hussen said. “As we build new units, we need to maintain the existing stock and extend the lifespan of those units to house everyone in the community.”
The renew and repair project will address the accessibility of the units, as well as make them more energy efficient.
There are more than 5,800 people currently waiting for affordable housing in Windsor, Kusmierczyk said, underlining the area’s housing crisis as units become less affordable.
“We have people on a waiting list and that number is unacceptable to all of us,” Dilkens said. “With respect to this announcement today, $9.3 million, thank you, minister Hussen and thank you Irek for your strong advocacy to help make sure we could get this money into our community.
“It is an important project for the community.”