Oxford County council will dole out $1.76 million in funding to expand affordable housing for seniors, a move one municipal official says will help tackle a housing crisis in the region.
Tillsonburg Non-Profit Housing Corp. received the green light from council last week to build an 18-unit housing project at 31 Victoria St. in Tillsonburg, which is home to three of the agency’s rent-geared-to-income properties.
“Tillsonburg Non-Profit has over 40 years of experience managing their units across their three existing sites,” said Rebecca Smith, manager of housing development.
“We’re in a housing crisis, so this project, among their other ones, will continue to support the county’s commitment to increasing the supply of affordable housing and addressing that housing crisis.”
County council approved a plan to take $1.64 million from the Social Service Relief Fund, which was created by the province to support vulnerable people during the pandemic, and an additional $122,100 from its federal-provincial housing fund.
The proposed 18 one-bedroom units will house seniors with annual incomes of $38,000 or less by December 2022.
As of 2020, Tillsonburg, a town of about 16,000, had a vacancy rate of 2.2. per cent, while Woodstock and Ingersoll had rates of one and 2.6 per cent, Smith said, citing figures from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Those numbers are below the three per cent vacancy rate of a balanced market.
The waiting list for Tillsonburg Non-Profit public housing is about 420 people.
“They’re looking at approximately four to seven years to get through that and of course, that keeps compounding over time,” Smith said. “This (funding will) provide those 18 affordable units and contribute to their existing supply.”
Construction is set to begin in March.
“I’m extremely excited for the inclusive approach,” Tillsonburg Mayor Stephen Molnar said.
“Tillsonburg Non-Profit has a long successful track record of defining needs and identifying solutions. This is the next step . . . to provide additional affordable housing for seniors.”
Molnar said increasing the number of public housing units has been an ongoing priority for county council that plans to adjust its 2022 plans and budget “to further accelerate both the affordable and the attainable housing units for our community.
“(This project is) ultimately an opportunity to celebrate, a shovel in the ground, getting people into appropriate housing with a warm place to put their head at night, . . . but we’ve got a lot more work to do,” he said.
Calvi Leon is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter based at the London Free Press. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada