Uxbridge looking at affordable housing options in their post-tornado town re-build

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Published October 6, 2022 at 12:24 pm

Canadian Press

Uxbridge real estate makes the news most often for its multi-million dollar country estates but the township has affordable housing needs as well; needs that have gained increased prominence since the F2 tornado touched down May 28, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

Much of the very limited supply of multi-unit rental buildings in Uxbridge was among the victims of the tornado and the Township has been scrambling ever since to find affordable accommodations to those who were displaced by the storm.

A state of emergency was in place in Uxbridge from May 21 until it was rescinded more than a month later on June 27.

There have been some local options for affordable housing, including a proposal from Trinity United Church, which suffered extensive damage in the tornado. With a shrinking congregation, the church is considering a re-build that will provide for a smaller worship space and another building on the property that could contain 100 or more affordable housing units.

These ideas, however, will take time to develop, said Uxbridge Mayor Dave Barton. “This will be a critical four years for the re-build of downtown Uxbridge.”

The federal government may have some answers for the Township with the recent announcement of an additional $2 billion investment to create 17,000 houses nationally, with nearly half of them of the affordable type, and of a rent-to-own funding stream.

Uxbridge also received some correspondence from Pickering-Uxbridge MP Jennifer O’Connell, who sent a letter to council outlining some of the programs available to help the township get some much needed affordable housing built.

“This is obviously an important subject, and we need to work very closely with (Durham) Region,” Barton said at Monday’s Council meeting, the last before the October 24 municipal election. “There might be an opportunity here.”

Barton acknowledged that the need for more affordable housing has been there for many years in Uxbridge; the tornado simply exacerbated the situation. “Outside of Uxbridge there has been lot of affordable housing going on with lots of projects happening.”

The programs provided for council’s consideration by O’Connell include:

  • National Housing Co-Investment Fund: New Construction – provides low interest loans to build affordable housing
  • Affordable Housing Innovation Fund – supports ‘new ideas’ that will ‘evolve’ the affordable housing sector
  • Rental Construction Financing Initiative – low-cost funding during the ‘most risk’ phases of rental housing construction through to stabilized operation (minimum loan $1 million)
  • Federal Lands Initiative – $200 million fund supporting the transfer of federal lands at discount rates or no cost for affordable housing
  • Seed Funding: New Construction Stream – interest-free loans for pre-development costs
  • Rapid Housing Initiative: Project Stream – application-based funding program
  • Housing Supply Challenge – $300 million (over five years) initiative that invites citizens, stakeholders and experts to propose solutions to the barriers of creating a new housing supply
  • Green Municipal Fund – helps local governments switch to sustainable practices faster

    Post-tornado devastation in Uxbridge

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