Affordable seniors’ housing an innovative and rewarding group effort
Twenty-four seniors’ housing units being built next to the existing Prairie Pioneers Independent Housing development will enable more seniors to remain in the community, thanks to affordable rent made possible by a three-way partnership between federal and provincial governments and the City of Swift Current.
“I am delighted to see construction continuing on this project, which was made possible through Canada’s Economic Action Plan,” said Cypress-Hills-Grasslands MP David Anderson on behalf of Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, at the sod-turning event hosted June 17.
“When complete, this development will provide quality affordable living for more seniors, allowing them to remain in the community they know and love.”
Social Services Minister and Minister responsible for Saskatchewan Housing Corporation, June Draude, commended the City of Swift Current for “thinking outside the box” and said she would be challenging other communities throughout the province to do the same.
“I am really happy and astounded that the City of Swift Current has done something that I’ve never heard of before, and that’s a lifetime tax abatement for these units,” said Draude. “We talk about how partnerships can work with other communities around the province. I think Swift Current is really leading the pack when it comes to being innovative.
“I understand that right now, that tax abatement on a yearly basis is [worth] about $80,000. We’ve put in $1.2 million; the federal government has matched it,” Draude added.
Swift Current’s Acting Mayor Dan Martens said, “The work and dedication that [PPIH] has put forward for so many years is truly amazing. Their vision has provided affordable rental accommodations for our valued senior population and has had a positive impact on our entire community.”
“To make a project of this magnitude move forward, it takes a strong belief and strong partnerships,” said Harold Martens of PPHI. “Today we can see first hand these agencies successfully working together for the common goal. Thank you Minister Draude and David Anderson for your governments’ financial support. The generous participation of Sask Housing and CMHC were definite critical components moving this project forward.”
Martens added, “There is a contribution by the taxpayers, not only of Swift Current but also by the taxpayers of Canada and Saskatchewan. We don’t want to forget that. Seventy per cent of the cost of this will be forgiven over 15 years to provide housing in Swift Current and area. It’s a sign of a sense of responsibility to seniors and I think it’s an important thing to do.”
John Wall has been on the PPIH board of directors for about 16 years and says it is his personal mission to ensure that seniors can afford to live in safe, secure and affordable housing.
“I’ve seen a lot of growth, and this last project has been very exciting for us. This project is important because it will provide low-cost housing for seniors that are in the lower incomes.
“Some of them make $1,200 or less a month, and they pay $800 for rent, it’s just not affordable, so this is what we try to provide. I think it’s a good project. The rent will probably be $450, $475, and we’re trying to keep it as low as we can.”
The amendment to the Canada-Saskatchewan Affordable Housing Program Agreement, which included funding under Canada’s Economic Action Plan, signed in May 2009, brought federal housing support of $74 million to Saskatchewan.
The Government of Saskatchewan is matching that commitment for a total of $148 million to assist those in housing need and, in collaboration with other levels of government and community partners, to make various types of affordable housing programs possible. In Saskatchewan, federalprovincial housing programs are delivered through the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation.
“There’s a housing continuum in need, from parental stages right through ownership, and we have to understand what’s going to be needed as the province grows,” said Minister Draude.
“We have five four-plexes and two duplexes, with 24 units,” noted Wall. “There about 550 square feet, they have in-floor heating which is good for seniors. It’s like a park setting, and it’s beautiful. We’re very fortunate to have obtained the property from the city a few years ago.
Cypress Hills-Grasslands MP David Anderson, Social Services Minister June Draude, Acting Mayor Dan Martens and Harold Martens of Prairie Pioneers Independent Housing Corporation officially turned the sod for a 24-unit seniors housing complex on June 17.