CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - The president of a non-profit housing organization in Charlottetown calls it a dream come true.
Bill Campbell with Kings Square Affordable Housing Corporation said they expect to break ground in late June on the largest affordable housing project they’ve ever done.
“What we’re trying to do is build a new community that does not have a stigma attached to it,’’ Campbell said. “We think if we build a new village starting with at least 50 units, maybe space for a larger community (it’s a good start).’’
John Aylward, an Atlantic Canadian development consultant working with the Kings Square group, said it will be a $7 million series of buildings with at least 50 units, a mixture of one- and two-bedroom units for seniors and family housing. At least seven units would be designated accessible units for people with disabilities.
“We’ve been at this since last June,’’ Aylward said. “The phase we’re at now is we are confident that our financing is in place. We have a piece of land, we have some concepts of what we want to do, we have some investors . . . and we’re looking at 50 units right now. It would be a mixed community of family, seniors and accessible units.’’
They’re not saying exactly where the location is yet, but it is within the city limits.
Campbell said they have more than 200 applications from people interested in an apartment.
“There’s people coming in every day to our office, and they’re hoping. The phone is ringing off the hook,’’ Campbell said.
Rents would be a combination of geared-to-income and affordable as defined by Canada Mortage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
Geared-to-income means people pay 25 per cent of their income for rent. Affordable would refer to rent that is much lower than current rents in the city.
Aylward said there is an invisible demographic of babyboomers hitting their 60s with no pensions or savings to count on.
“And a lot of them have been renters so we’re hoping to provide for that group as well,’’ Aylward said.
Campbell said a three-bedroom unit would rent for about $900 a month.
“We want to accommodate disabled people who deserve a break; we want to accommodate seniors who really deserve something affordable; we want to accommodate families who are paying for something affordable,’’ Campbell said.
Kings Square has received a $40,000 grant in seed money from CMHC, money Aylward said will go toward “a business plan, drawings, engineering, any sort of site assessments and environmental testing.”
Campbell added that they also have a private investor who has $1 million to throw in “if we giddy up and get going’’.
The Kings Square group also hopes to tap into provincial funds either for this project or another one.
The P.E.I. government wants proposals from developers to build at least 30 new affordable seniors housing units in Charlottetown.
The new units are scheduled to be completed and available for rental by March 31, 2019. The project is part of $5.2 million in federal funding allocated for new seniors units in areas of most need.
Full details of the request for proposal requirements are available online at www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/tenders. The deadline for submitting proposals is March 2, 2018.
Campbell said there is a desperate need for affordable housing.
“I see it every day,’’ he said. “It’s unbelievable.’’