Home News New Barrie Road apartments spark conversations about affordable housing

New Barrie Road apartments spark conversations about affordable housing

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“I feel bad for the old people trying to find housing,” said one local resident. Orillia affordable housing advocate says rent rates ‘outrageous’

The open house has attracted dozens of potential tenants to a new 160-unit apartment building at 75 Barry Street. Friday.

It is the third large apartment building on the sprawling site that once housed a factory.

Hassey Property Group is looking for tenants for the building, which is owned by Villasola Residential Condominiums. Tenants will be able to start moving in on February 1, says Robert Stratton, sales rep.

“We already have a lot of people registered and ready to go,” he said. “We only started advertising last week, and we may be talking about 10% of the units.”

He says about 40 people attended the open house in the early afternoon, which is “well above average” for a weekday.

“This is because there is a huge housing shortage,” he said.

Stratton says the feedback he’s received about the new building has been positive.

“We have a lot of elderly people here because it’s wheelchair accessible,” he said. “We have barrier-free bathrooms for people with disabilities in some units.”

The monthly rent for a one-bedroom, 655-square-foot unit and den is $1,650. The cost for a 755 square foot unit is $1,730. A two-bedroom over 1,245 square feet costs $2,580. Tenants will also be charged a monthly fee of $50 plus electricity and water.

“Prices are fair for all one-bedroom units,” said Stratton. “The only ones with higher prices are CEOs, and those are among the larger units.”

There are no units considered “affordable” in the building. Developer Moe Zadeh purchased the land nearly 20 years ago, shortly after the city took over an old factory and run-down property due to unpaid back taxes. The city demolished the building.

In the years that followed, Zadeh built 60 condominiums and 103 condominiums, in part with government funding to ensure some affordable housing would be included.

He originally intended to own affordable units in the new $38 million apartment complex, and in 2018 formally asked the city to defer development costs for five years, provided he was guaranteed 15 affordable units in the building.

But before the council could make a decision, Zadeh shelved the idea.

“The two previous projects (85 and 95 Barry Road) have received significant funding from the county as well as the city, and as a result there are a number of affordable housing units in these two buildings,” said City Manager Ian Sugden. Development and engineering services.

Sugden said Zadeh’s request to defer development costs and his offer to include 15 affordable units “were linked to co-financing terms he was considering.[la Société canadienne d’hypothèques et de logement] “.

Sugden said Zadeh “has chosen a different financing method, and is therefore not looking for affordable housing in the 75 Barry Street project.”

A real estate agent for more than 20 years, Stratton says housing demand is worse in Orillia than in surrounding communities.

“There aren’t many nice places to live,” he said. “A lot of the basement flats are dirty and people pay too much.”

He thinks it will only take a year to get to 75 Barry Road. The resort is full and he says most of the residents will likely be senior citizens.

“Older people find it difficult to find a nice, clean place,” he said. “I feel sorry for them for living in conditions they should not have.”

Debbie Kehoe of Orillia attended the Open House on Friday. It’s a nice building, she says, but the rent is high.

“It’s new and clean,” she said. “For me, at the moment, it is not within everyone’s reach.”

Kehoe is a single mother who lives with her son who is dependent on the Ontario Disability Support Program.

“We’ll need the two bedrooms, plus the living room, which will cost the two of us $2,580 a month,” she said. “I don’t think we can go down that road.”

Units are “expensive,” says Michelle Nelson and Kevin Gagnon, two Orillia residents who also attended the open house.

Gagnon, who works for the Canada Pension Plan, says he earns less than $700 a month from the pension plan.

“We can’t afford it,” Nelson said. “For what they ask here, we can have a house.”

Retirees can’t live in an apartment complex, say Nelson and Gagnon.

“I feel bad for old people trying to find housing,” said Nelson. “Even with two people on my pension, you can hardly afford to live here.”

Victoria, a local post-secondary student who didn’t want to give her last name, says she loves the apartment and thinks the price is reasonable.

“It opens up a lot of housing for people who are looking for it,” she said. “I think it’s really good for the price and location.”

Although Viktoria says there are plenty of options in Orillia for people looking for a new home, many aren’t on a budget.

“A lot of the options are either overrated or just not good,” she said.

The square picture of 75 Barry Street, says Cam Davidson, who chairs the city’s Affordable Housing Commission. The apartments are reasonable, but the prices are “horrible”.

“People in the Ontario Disability Program, other social services, and supportive housing don’t make as much money. Putting yourself in a situation where you’re paying over $1,000 for a bedroom won’t work if you have a family.”

“Two bedrooms would be too much for a family of three kids and two adults who will pay $2,580. This is not affordable housing.”

Rent below 80 percent of market value is what counts as affordable housing, says Davidson, and the apartments on Barry Street fall short of that. However, he acknowledges that the prices are “really low” compared to most other rentals on the market.

“It is untraceable and unaffordable for a lot of people,” he said. We’re at a standstill here in Orillia, and we’re not just talking about low-income people anymore. We are talking about the middle and upper class. »

Davidson suggests that people struggling to find housing visit the Orillia Ontario Works Office and The Lighthouse, or Simcoe Enabled.

“These are places where people can go to get advice on what is available and how much it costs,” he said.

– With The Dave Dawson Files


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