$188 Million Invested In Four-Pillar, Low-Income Housing Strategy

by NationTalk on April 17, 2007805 Views

April 17, 2007

A new fund will enable community-driven construction or renovation of affordable homes for lower-income Manitobans, while other new investments will enhance public housing, homeless shelters and basic home repair, Family Services and Housing Minister Gord Mackintosh announced today.

The total initial investment in the four pillars of Manitoba’s multi-year housing strategy is more than $188 million. The strategy joins Rewarding Work and enhancements to child care as Budget 2007’s framework for greater opportunities for low income Manitobans.HOMEWorks!
The first pillar of the new housing strategy is HOMEWorks!, a $104.5-million, three-year fund targeting affordable homes for low-income Manitobans with the following five priorities:

· inner-city revitalization including a focus on refugees and immigrants,
· older Manitobans,
· urban Aboriginals,
· northern Manitobans, and
· homeless Manitobans.

“This multi-year strategy builds on Manitoba’s aggressive affordable-housing partnerships of the past six years by integrating $61.5 million in federal dollars with $43 million in provincial contributions,” said Mackintosh. “Areas of need were identified by stakeholders to provide a stronger foundation for healthy families and communities.”

HOMEWorks! allocates a minimum of $42 million to the Een Dah Aung (Our Home) program for Aboriginal off-reserve housing. A groundbreaking Aboriginal governance and decision-making process to oversee this investment will be developed in the first year. The fund will also include $6 million to extend neighbourhood housing assistance for three years for continued support of the community-driven revitalization efforts in the designated neigbourhoods under the Neighbourhoods Alive! initiative.

There is also a home-ownership component of $8.5 million. All newly-constructed and renovated units will meet green standards for energy efficiency and cost-saving operation. Community proposals that develop housing options for people with a mental illness will be given a priority.

Capital contributions from municipal governments will be matched by HOMEWorks! where there is a demonstrated need for low-income housing projects.

To launch HOMEWorks!, the province announced that $17.7 million has been allocated toward the development of:

· family housing where members are attending the University College of the North campuses in The Pas and Thompson;
· new low-income family housing in Brandon;
· the development of co-operative housing;
· new housing options for older Manitobans in northern and rural Manitoba;
· continued support of inner-city infill housing; and
· a northern renovation program and new Aboriginal housing options, part of the Northern Development Strategy.
The province is working with community organizations such Kekinan Housing and Villa Youville, and Flin Flon to finalize their project proposals this year and will engage communities in working toward meeting their housing needs.

The second pillar of the low-income housing strategy is the revitalization of existing public housing through a six-point, three-year strategy called Foundations. It includes:

· Manitoba Housing Authority unit renovations and establishment of programs for preventive maintenance and roof repair ($66.6 million);
· conversion of units for supportive housing in provincially-owned seniors housing projects ($7.2 million for 48 supportive housing units in Winnipeg and 36 supportive housing units in rural Manitoba to be developed during the 2007-08 fiscal year);
· new playgrounds ($600,000);
· an enhanced security package ($1.6 million in 2007-08) that includes more co-ordinated deployment of security services, a crackdown on illegal gang activity such as drug dealing with two new and dedicated investigators under the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act, enhanced closed-circuit television (CCTV) access control-card systems;
· co-op and rent-to-own homeownership conversions on a pilot basis; and
· community empowerment with such site specific initiatives such as a post-secondary bursary fund for social housing residents ($200,000), on-site literacy and adult learning, expansion of on-site community resource centres and increased funding for tenant associations.

Project: A Roof Over Each Bed
The third pillar is Project: A Roof Over Each Bed which will invest $3.9 million in emergency and transitional shelter for homeless people in 2007-08. Homelessness will also become a new departmental focus in the housing portfolio.

“We have taken steps today to help address the problems facing homeless people and the challenges of finding solutions to homelessness,” said Mackintosh. “We are providing 44 per cent more funding to organizations like the Salvation Army, Neeginan, the Main Street Project and Hannah’s Place at the Siloam Mission.”

“This announcement recognizes the importance of affordable housing for Aboriginal people and seniors and we are pleased to see the province’s commitment,” said Lucille Bruce, chair, Kekinan Centre.

“Those who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless need a safe place to stay. Addressing their plight, in part, defines us as a compassionate society. This funding helps us provide the less fortunate with secure shelter,” said John Mohan, CEO Siloam Mission.

The funds will provide support to those in need with shelter while they stabilize and find a suitable place to live in the community. As part of this approach, support will be provided to the Red Road Lodge to help convert a former Main Street hotel into a safe place offering emergency shelter and transitional housing.

This coming year will also see the development of a community led multi-sectoral and multi-year prevention action plan to tackle homelessness. The province is also in ongoing talks with the federal government regarding provincial participation in the federally-funded Homeless Partnership Strategy.

Basic Renovation
The fourth pillar will ensure that basic renovation programs remain an important component of the provincial housing strategy with the announcement of a province contribution of $4 million toward the two-year extension of housing renovation programs with the federal government. It is expected that during the two-year period, a combined $14 million will be delivered to assist low-income households with repairs, modifications or rehabilitation. These programs help keep low-income housing on the market and improve the living conditions for Manitobans including seniors, persons with disabilities, victims of family violence and Aboriginal peoples.

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