Housing sites reflect modern mix

Two more affordable housing projects are on the way next year as the City of London moves to reform the old model and image of public housing.

About 150 people, including housing officials, developers, realtors and policy makers, attended a National Housing Day forum to discuss topics such as public and affordable housing and the homeless - writes lfpress.com.

Steve Giustizia, head of the city’s new Housing Development Corporation (HDC), announced two new affordable housing projects for 2018.

A 10-storey building will be built at 25 Centre St. with 82 units, with about half the units designated as affordable.

It will be next to another 61-unit eight-storey affordable housing building at 27 Centre St. that was constructed last year by Escalade Property Corp.

A second 54-unit building, including 50 affordable units will be constructed on a vacant lot at 770 Whetter St. near Thompson Road by Homes Unlimited, a non-profit affordable housing corporation which also has completed buildings on Burwell Street and the former Manor and Highland Park School.

In addition to 27 Centre St., two other HDC-sponsored projects are nearing completion including a 31-unit building at 516 Albert St. in Strathroy and a six-storey 69-unit building at 356 Dundas St.

An earlier project at 226 and 228-230 Dundas St., formerly housing The Honest Lawyer tavern, faced a delay after the owner, Marvin Rivas, sold the building to a new owner who intends to continue with the project.

Giustizia said work on that 33-unit building should resume soon.

Unlike traditional public housing by London Middlesex Housing Corporation (LMHC), the HDC offers loans and grants to residential housing developers to reduce the cost of construction up to 50 per cent.

In return, the developer must rent some or all completed rental units below market rates, down to a base of about $550 a month.

Giuistizia said one advantage to the affordable housing model is that there is a mix of tenants, with some paying market rent and some getting reduced or subsidized rent

He said that mix removes the stigma often associated with public housing.

Josh Browne, head of the LMHC, said the agency is making strides to engage the tenants of public housing and provide more services.

But Browne warned the LMHC, which manages 2,300 units, is facing a $230-million bill in the future to replace or repair older buildings

Giustizia said one solution is to regenerate traditional public housing with the HDC model and bringing in private or non-profit partners.

“We have two models here, one that is struggling, and one that is working well with investment from the private sector. They have to merge,” said Giustizia.


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