Tuesday, August 16, 2011

FREDERICTON DEVELOPERS OPEN TO MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECTS - COUNCILLOR (excerpts from article published in the Telegraph-Journal August 13, 2011)

Fredericton developers are becoming more open to including rent-subsidized housing in their new apartment developments, says the chairman of Fredericton's affordable-housing committee.

Coun. Mike O'Brien and members of the city's affordable-housing group met recently with federal Social Development Minister Sue Stultz, who is responsible for seniors, housing and community non-profit organizations.

During the visit, representatives from Fredericton Homeless Shelters Inc., Fredericton Chamber of Commerce and the city's Community Action Group on Homelessness were able to talk with the minister, O'Brien said.

The minister toured six affordable housing developments in the city, including The Tannery at Brookside Court project developed by Avide Properties.

Over the past decade, Fredericton developers have been including affordable housing within their mix of market-geared apartment construction.

"I think we've seen a lot of successes, quality buildings, successful projects and improvements to neighbourhoods and one by one we're tearing down the wall of resistance," he said.

Tim Ross, co-ordinator of the Community Action Group on Homelessness, said the city's housing need is like an iceberg.

"The largest part of the problem is hidden from view," Ross said. "There's about 30,000 households in Fredericton and there are 6,105 households that are considered to be in distress. That's based on Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation data that reports on housing affordability, overcrowding and housing that's in need of major repair," Ross said.

The 6,105 households that, the action group says, face tough financial straits are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing. If most of the household income goes to pay for a roof and walls, then there's little left for healthy nutrition and other family needs.

Ross agrees with O'Brien that developers are opening up to the concept of affordable housing.

"We've been building very effective partnerships with developers on the delivery of affordable housing programing and we've also seen a significant drop in the not-in-my-backyard syndrome when developments come forward," Ross said.

"The goal at the end of the day is more mixed-income development where an individual's housing may be subsidized, but it's seamlessly blended into our community," Ross said. "Most residents wouldn't even know where affordable housing units are located in the city ... You may already be a neighbour of a subsidized unit."

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