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Wellesley project among affordable housing grants

A project in Wellesley Village is among the recipients of $9.4 million in affordable housing grants announced recently for Waterloo Region.

Four units will be built in the Pondview area, with the federal and provincial governments contributing equally to the overall investment.

Throughout the region, Newo Holdings Ltd., MennoHomes Inc. and Supportive Housing of Waterloo will build 79 units of affordable housing for low-income seniors, families and individuals with disabilities.

The first wave of funding will lead to construction by September.

“We were really pleased. We’re so glad to see these houses approved in Wellesley, because I think it helps to raise the consciousness that this isn’t just a big city problem. And throughout the rural areas there are a lot of houses that owners haven’t lived in for years and that are really not safe,” said Cathy Brothers, executive director of the Catholic Family Counselling Centre, a full-service, non-denominational, professional counselling agency that in addition to providing individual and group counselling, also provides community outreach to children, men, women, seniors, couples, families and new Canadians. The organization works with families from Woolwich and Wellesley who face challenges meeting their basic needs, like safe housing.

“Throughout the region we’re so aware of the huge struggles the families have with inadequate housing and the lack of good housing leads to so many other kinds of family and social issues, so we were thrilled to see those four homes approved – it’s a real step in the right direction,” she said.

“When it comes to building safe and strong communities, it takes the efforts of many to achieve success. It takes partnerships at all levels of government to get real results,” said Harold Albrecht, MP for Kitchener-Conestoga, in a release announcing the grants.

“We are thrilled for a number of reasons. And it starts with how very important the contribution of the senior levels of governments was and the amount of their contribution,” said Martin Buhr, president of MennoHomes, the not-for-profit charitable organization overseeing the construction of the four new units in Wellesley.

MennoHomes is responsible for getting the money together, which consists of the governmental component of $120,000 per unit ($480,000 for four units). The local project will also see its development fees waived by the Region of Waterloo for each unit, representing approximately $9,000.

“The extension of the Affordable Housing Program will assist our local partners in creating much-needed affordable and supportive housing for seniors, homeless and low-income families in Waterloo Region,” said regional Chair Ken Seiling.

The government funding will help cover the costs of the construction of two semi-detached homes. Once the units are constructed, the affordable monthly rental rates of approximately $550 to $650 for the four-bedroom units will help cover the costs of maintenance, mortgage principle and interest rates, property taxes, and property insurance.

“The critical and important thing here is that by receiving $120,000 a unit is that it allows us to have as little mortgage debt as possible to complete the capital financing for the new [units],” said Buhr.

MennoHomes still has to raise some $65,000 per unit: it expects contributions to come from individual and group donors, as well as churches and service foundations.

“Today’s funding continues our government’s commitment to address the housing needs of Ontario’s most vulnerable populations,” said Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Leeanna Pendergast. “Investment in affordable housing improves job prospects for residents and is a fundamental support for individuals and families trying to break the cycle of poverty.”

“New housing initiatives add significant support to the government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy,” said John Milloy,  provincial Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. “This first wave of funding will lead to construction by September.”

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