Friday, August 19, 2011

'We're tearing down the wall of resistance'

(excerpts from an article published int he Daily Gleaner, August 19th, 2011)


Fredericton developers are becoming more open to including rent-subsidized housing in their new apartment developments, says the chairman of Fredericton's affordable housing committee.

Fredericton developers are becoming more open to including rent-subsidized housing in their new apartment developments, says the chairman of Fredericton's affordable housing committee.

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Federal Society Development Minister Sue Stultz and Coun. Mike O'Brien, the chairman of the city's affordable-housing committee, toured affordable-housing developments in Fredericton, including this one called The Tannery at Brookside Court project, developed by Avide Properties.

Coun. Mike O'Brien and members of the city's affordable housing group met recently with provincial Social Development Minister Sue Stultz - the provincial minister responsible for seniors, housing and community non-profit organizations.

O'Brien said the city's affordable housing committee has had enjoyed a great relationship with Social Development ministers over the years.

"We've met with each minister in the past and explained what our committee's mandate is and that we can't move forward without their continued assistance, and we have had tremendous co-operation from the Social Development ministers, deputies and executive staff over the years," O'Brien said.

During the meeting with Stultz, representatives from Fredericton Homeless Shelters Inc., the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce and the city's Community Action Group on Homelessness were able to talk with the minister, O'Brien said.

The minister visited six affordable-housing developments in the city, including The Tannery at Brookside Court project, developed by Avide Properties.

Over the past decade, Fredericton developers have become more accepting of including affordable housing in their mix of market-geared apartment construction, the councillor said.

The city's Lutheran Church built an affordable-housing development on Regent Street with the help of Avide Properties.

Another developer opened up a project on Cliffe Street. The John Howard Society built one on Main Street.

Two other projects are located in the Brookside Drive area, including a development to open in the fall. Other developers have included government rent-supported units in other buildings.

O'Brien said by having resident property managers, the developments are being maintained properly and tenant issues are addressed.

"I think we've seen a lot of successes, quality buildings, successful projects and improvements to neighbourhoods, and one by one, we're tearing down the wall of resistance," he said.

"In the past, the money allotted to the greater Fredericton area for programing was not being used for two reasons. Our developers were maybe timid of getting into these types of projects because of the perception and the stigma attached to them. And the other reason is they were just too busy building new homes, apartments and condos."

By organizing annual affordable-housing days hosted by the affordable-housing committee, the city has been gradually educating developers to the funding options available to them and easing their concerns about government red tape.

"We made them aware that they can get into these programs with less restrictions and headaches than they thought might exist," O'Brien said.

He believes there's a shift in public attitudes toward affordable housing.

"The community is more accepting and embracing of the need," O'Brien said.

"Also, the market for expensive homes and apartments is not infinite. You can build a quality, affordable-housing development and make money off of it, and that's not a dirty word at all."

Fredericton Non-Profit Housing is another group that has done a great job of taking existing housing stock and retrofitting it for affordable housing, O'Brien said.

To read the entire article, click on the following link: http://http//dailygleaner.canadaeast.com/cityregion/article/1433094

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