Con­trac­tors want an­swers

Ques­tion why low in­come hous­ing for se­niors unit ten­ders keep get­ting awarded to the same com­pa­nies

The Southern Gazette - - Front Page - BY MAR­TINE BLUE mar­[email protected]

“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.

Greg Rogers

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.


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