Bruce County housing, YIMBY team achievements outlined
By Liz Dadson
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Bruce County housing has seen some major achievements in the past year in the quest to provide affordable housing throughout the county.
Housing administrator Susan Earle and county planner Leah Andrews Barrie outlined these achievements at the March 5 Kincardine council meeting.
Earle noted that through an initiative, called the "Yes, In My Back Yard" (YIMBY) team, the county held a National Housing Day and released a video, "Housing for All - A Place to Call Home."
She showed some clips of this powerful video which includes interviews with builders, developers, county housing staff, the chairman of the YIMBY team, and a family that is living in an affordable housing unit.
Earle said the 10-year Housing Strategy is on target to provide 445 affordable housing units over 10 years (2013-23). These include low-density (70%), medium- and high-density (30%); home ownership (70%), rental (30%); affordability - 30% of all new supply.
The YIMBY team includes members from the private sector, social agencies, politicians, non-profit boards, realtors, and the media. This group promotes affordable housing and education throughout the community.
Earle said that since 2010, 122 affordable housing units have been created through construction, renovation, rent-supplement, and assisted home-ownership and repairs.
One program receiving a lot of attention right now, she said, is housing stability which helps people with a variety of financial difficulties, such as last month's rent, moving expenses, utility arrears and rent arrears.
Last year, this program assisted 263 families at a cost of $120,000, said Earle. So far, this year, $31,000 has been spent on rent arrears, utility arrears and moving expenses.
Of that, $16,000 has gone toward utility arrears alone. And of that, $4,300 assisted people in Kincardine.
"It's been very difficult this year, with a very cold winter combined with high energy costs, especially the increase in propane costs," said Earle.
She said six new affordable rental units are being built in Kincardine by developer Tom Kerr, with rents to be set at $600-$700 per month.
Bruce County housing continues to seek private-sector partnerships to continue building more affordable housing units, said Earle.
To assist with that, the planning department has made the rules more flexible, said Andrews Barrie. Kincardine was one of the first municipalities in the county to include secondary suites in its Official Plan and zoning bylaw.
Andrews Barrie also encouraged municipalities to look at housing in their Community Improvement Plans in order to improve the local housing stock.
Councillor Jacqueline Faubert said she already took advantage of the bylaw that permits secondary suites in Kincardine, so her mother could have her own place on Faubert's property.
Mayor Larry Kraemer commended Bruce County housing for its accomplishments, including the provision of affordable housing, such as Wellington Shores in Port Elgin, which is well-cared-for, and well-managed.
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Saturday, March 15, 2014