Housing developers and advocates flocked to an information session in Haliburton Feb. 11 aimed at highlighting incentives that will help fill the regional affordable housing gap.

The City of Kawartha Lakes and County of Haliburton housing services hosted the session to discuss the new annual Affordable Housing Target Program. The initiative will guide developers through a yearlong process to help them take advantage of all the government financial incentives available to develop affordably. More than 50 people attended.

Places for People vice president Faye Martin said the new process should attract more interest into previously undersubscribed incentives.

“There was very poor take-up and part of the problem was people didn’t know about it,” Martin said. “The really, really smart thing this time around is they got Elise (Karklins, affordable housing program coordinator) here to basically hold your hand, take you through it.”

The program will accept expressions of interest for several housing types, including new rental and home developments, secondary suites, and multi-unit rehabilitation. Packages will be provided to developers based on their projects and what incentives they seek. After being filled out, the packages will be reviewed by the coordinator and a technical team, before eventually being forwarded to councils for approval. The amount of funding released by municipalities will depend on how much interest there is, according to city human services manager Hope Lee.

It is all to help the City and the County achieve their new affordable housing targets, committed to in 2019. The City is aiming to create 2,000 new affordable units over 10 years while the County is aiming for 750.

“It’s not competitive,” Lee said. “We’re going to look at each expression of interest based on its own merits and how it helps us achieve those targets.”

The incentives include a variety of funding programs that can be provided as an up-front grant, Lee said. In general, the amount of money available to an applicant is greater based on how long a developer keeps the proposed unit(s) affordable.

Haliburton Community Housing Corporation president Glenn Scott complimented the presentation and what is being offered.

“It’s actually getting close to rubber on the road,” Scott said. “This is the way to do it, is to give us a process where there is some opportunity for money at the end.”

However, he added the biggest test of the program will be seeing exactly how much funding it can provide.

“I love what they’re doing but let’s really see how they can help us out,” Scott said.

Maple View Apartments administrator Kathy Rogers said there is some real potential in the program.

“It’s a great step on starting to get us all together,” Rogers said. “There’s definitely a lot of interest.”

The pre-submission process is planned for March, with expressions of interest meetings planned for April. More information is available by contacting Karklins at ekarklins@kawarthalakes.ca or 705-324-9870 extension 3105.

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