Contractors want answers
Question why low income housing for seniors unit tenders keep getting awarded to the same companies
“It’s favoritism. Completely unfair.”
Sheldon Vaters is “extremely disgruntled” that provincial government contracts to build low-income housing for seniors are, “continually awarded to the same people.” The Affordable Housing Initiative allots $40,000 per unit to help offset building costs. The owner must then agree to rent two bedroom units to seniors at $650 per month for 10 years.
Vaters said the application process to qualify for the program is “very extensive and time consuming.” His cost $4,000 to produce and included engineered drawings to build an eight-unit complex by Braxton Suites in Marystown. He also “bought a half acre of land for this project and had land filled in at my own cost.” The proposal process states that it gives preference to proponents who own zoned land. This is the second time Vaters applied to the program.
Vaders realized he did not win the contract when several trucks of fill drove by his house. He asked around and found out the same contractor who won the last two tenders was awarded this one too. He received the official letter rejecting his bid after finding out who did receive it through word of mouth. He said there is no transparent account of who did receive the tenders available online yet.
Vaders said he is frustrated with the current system.
“After five years of wishing and hoping and filling out paperwork, the Newfoundland and Labrador government has failed another young person again.”
He is calling on the provincial government “to revisit and reevaluate the tender fairly.”
Greg Rogers, a contractor from Marystown, agrees that the tendering process should “spread the opportunities to build these units around to different companies.” Rogers, who also spent $5,000 and three weeks of his time to prepare his application said he is not disgruntled but is frustrated with the system. He is eager to learn why his bid did not make the cut but can’t reach anyone who will give him any answers. The rejection letter he received referenced the affordable housing officer and manager’s contact
It’s favoritism. Completely unfair.
numbers and invited him to call them to discuss his application. He called both several times but received no response, he said. His MHA Mark Browne did reach out to Rogers to say Browne is looking into the matter.
The manager of corporate communications for Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, Jenny Bowring, responded by email to The Southern Gazette’s request for insight into the tender evaluation process. She wrote: “Affordable housing proposals are evaluated through an NLHC committee which includes individuals from the corporation’s engineering, finance and executive departments. Recommendations are then reviewed with the minister to ensure adequate and fair regional distribution.”
Bowring outlined the jury’s criteria for selection, which includes five main considerations.
“The need and demand for this type of housing in the area, the developer’s financial ability to complete the project, technical considerations including accessibility and universal design features, the contractor’s capacity to build multi units and their potential for long-term sustainability and cost-effectiveness.”
Bowring stated that because the “NLHC follows the specific evaluation criterion and selection process noted above, multiple selections for individual proponents are not unusual.”
The email added: “The Affordable Housing Proposal is actually not a public tender. It is a Request for Proposals and because funding is limited, it’s not possible to approve all submissions. Given the selection process was followed, as it has for all other Investment in Affordable Housing Proposal calls, there is no basis for re-evaluation. The process is to wait until all proponents are notified of their proposal status, and then at that time, a media release is issued.”
Neither affordable housing officer Sherry Mercer, nor affordable housing manager Madonna Walsh responded to The Southern Gazette’s request for an interview.