News Local

Housing support for Indigenous residents

By Ian McInroy, Barrie Examiner

The federal and provincial governments, along with local municipalities, announced affordable housing developments across Simcoe and Dufferin counties this week.

The announcement was made at 98 Penetanguishene Rd. in Barrie, a facility that provides 38 affordable-housing units for seniors.

Funding to the tune of $836,394 was announced for six units at the Biminaawzogin Regional Aboriginal Women's Circle for Indigenous residents in Orillia.

The circle promotes personal growth, training and education to Aboriginal women and their families.

"The Biminaawzogin Regional Aboriginal Women's Circle is a wonderful organization providing transitional housing and other services for vulnerable Aboriginal women and their children in a safe, supportive and nurturing environment," said Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke.

Through the federal government's Investment in Affordable Housing Agreement, funding is administered through the provincial government and Simcoe County, which disperses it through grants to municipalities.

Arfona Zwiers, the county's director of social housing, said Tuesday's announcements were part of the county's 10-year Affordable Housing and Homelessness Prevention Strategy.

"We have a number of programs and targets in place to address housing needs across Simcoe County, such as new rental development, rent supplements and housing allowances, second suites funding and homeownership and down-payment assistance," she said. "In the first three years of the initiative, we have created 544 new units, including 42 units in Orillia."

Zwiers said federal and provincial governments have always had a major role in social and affordable housing but that it is up to the county to select and recommend projects to the province for funding.

"Over the past 15 years, over $50 million has been committed to 20 new rental projects in the county, including five projects in Orillia," she said.

The Penetanguishene Road seniors facility in Barrie received more than $4.5 million in combined federal and provincial funding through the Investment in Affordable Housing agreement, while the DeafBlind Ontario home in Barrie received $600,000 in funding for five units.

Forty units for seniors at 101 Thompsons Rd. in Penetanguishene will receive $2.8 million.

Facilities in Orangeville, Shelburne, Gravenhurst and Huntsville were also funded through Tuesday's announcement.

Combined, the eight developments will provide 123 additional units of affordable housing, helping to reduce the wait lists in Orillia, Barrie, Muskoka, and Simcoe and Dufferin counties.

Simcoe County Warden Gerry Marshall thanked the federal and provincial governments for their investments.

"This will help us increase the supply of much-needed affordable housing in our area," he said. "We continue to work with partners from all levels of government and sectors to strengthen our communities, identify creative and sustainable housing opportunities and ultimately reach our targets of creating 2,685 new affordable housing units in Simcoe County by 2024."

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