City backs hous­ing com­plex

Forty- unit build­ing would help Belleville’s most vul­ner­a­ble res­i­dents

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - NEWS - JA­SON MILLER THE INTELLIGENCER jamiller@postmedia.com

Belleville coun­cil is ral­ly­ing be­hind a 40- unit sup­port­ive- hous­ing com­plex by agree­ing to cover more than $ 200,000 in fees if the fa­cil­ity is con­structed here.

Hast­ings County also gar­nered sim­i­lar sup­port, in prin­ci­ple, from Quinte West which is the other lo­ca­tion con­trac­tors tasked with find­ing an ideal site for the pro­ject.

Coun­cil­lors were quick to sup­port the ini­tia­tive after hear­ing of the dim re­al­ity fac­ing our most vul­ner­a­ble cit­i­zens.

“Fifty per cent of the ur­gent home­less wait list for so­cial hous­ing is for the City of Belleville, which is stag­ger­ing,” said Michelle Og­den, the county’s as­sis­tant man­ager of af­ford­able hous­ing, pol­icy and part­ner­ships.

The Home for Good provin­cial ini­tia­tive is tai­lored to tran­si­tion­ing peo­ple out of chronic home­less­ness and pre­vent­ing home­less­ness from oc­cur­ring, she said.

In the mix of units will be up to eight wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble units, two of which will have en­hanced ac­ces­si­bil­ity fea­tures.

“It will of­fer 24/ 7 on­site sup­port ser­vices,” said Og­den.

Among those who will ben­e­fit, in­clude peo­ple with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties, ad­dic­tion and men­tal health is­sues, peo­ple trans­fer­ring from cor­rec­tional fa­cil­i­ties and se­niors with phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties.

Some of the op­er­a­tional rev­enue will be fun­nelled into hir­ing staff at agen­cies han­dling the tran­si­tion­ing of clients. There will be staff of­fices based in the build­ing, with Hast­ings County staff work­ing reg­u­lar hours there as well.

Rent sub­si­dized units will also be of­fered.

We also have rent sub­si­dies to of­fer the agen­cies to pro­vide their clients in the pri­vate sec­tor,” Og­den said, of dis­tribut­ing al­lowances to peo­ple liv­ing else­where but sup­ported by the pro­grams.

Rent fund­ing go­ing to­wards first and last month’s rent will be estab­lished, Og­den said.

Ten­ants must sign an agree­ment ac­cept­ing aid for their is­sues such ad­dic­tion and men­tal health, in or­der to qual­ify for a space and the $ 360 rent sub­sidy.

Od­gen said the con­tract will be awarded by Jan­uary.

“My dream is it will start in the spring and be fin­ished by Oc­to­ber,” she said. “Ideally, that’s what we’re hop­ing for.”

CAO Jim Pine asked the city to cover the costs of build­ing per­mit fees and de­vel­op­ment charges. Though city rules don’t al­low for the waiv­ing of those fees, coun­cil still agreed to cover the bill if the fa­cil­ity lands in Belleville.

“This is a re­ally amaz­ing pro­ject and a op­por­tu­nity to deal with a very vul­ner­a­ble por­tion of our pop­u­la­tion,” Pine said, of the pro­ject which re­lies on back­ing from 19 com­mu­nity agen­cies and groups to al­le­vi­ate the on­go­ing hous­ing cri­sis.

Coun. Gar­net Thomp­son, chair of Hast­ings County so­cial ser­vices com­mit­tee, said such a com­plex hasn’t been built in our com­mu­nity since 2010.

He drew into fo­cus that there are some 1,677 peo­ple on the wait­ing list for so­cial hous­ing in our com­mu­nity.

“There is ob­vi­ously a big need in this com­mu­nity,” he said. “Not just Belleville, but Belleville is get­ting the higher per­cent­age of home­less­ness and peo­ple need­ing as­sis­tance.”

An­nual op­er­at­ing costs, which in­cludes debt ser­vic­ing, will amount to about $ 50,000 yearly.

“So, pretty af­ford­able for a fa­cil­ity that will have 40 plus units,” Pine said.

It will gen­er­ate about $ 40,000 in prop­erty taxes for the city where it’s lo­cated.

“There is a bit of rev­enue com­ing back to the city,” CAO Pine said.

The provin­cial fund­ing in­cludes al­most $ 4.8 mil­lion in cap­i­tal dol- lars — an es­ti­mated 75 per cent of the con­struc­tion cost.

The county kicked in $ 1.6 mil­lion or 25 per cent of the build­ing costs.

Home for Good will fund more than $ 1.4 mil­lion in op­er­at­ing costs through to 2020.

County staff and part­ners in sev­eral lo­cal agen­cies ap­plied for the funds in May, three months after the for­mer Bel Ma­rine res­i­dence in Belleville closed, dis­plac­ing more than 50 peo­ple. The part­ners in the fund­ing ap­pli­ca­tion were among those who helped re­lo­cate many of Bel Ma­rine’s ten­ants.

Og­den also showed a poignant pre­sen­ta­tion de­pict­ing lo­cal of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing the fire and po­lice chiefs, speak­ing on the hous­ing cri­sis. Sev­eral lo­cal agen­cies will be re­fer­ring clients to the fa­cil­ity and con­tinue pro­vid­ing ser­vices to them while there.

JA­SON MILLER/ THE INTELLIGENCER

Hast­ings County CAO, Jim Pine, lob­bies city coun­cil to sup­port the build­ing of a 40 unit com­plex in an ef­fort to al­le­vi­ate the on­go­ing hous­ing cri­sis.

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