Public housing

Repair of 4,700 local social housing units underway

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A $170 million investment in existing community housing, approved by city council nearly 19 months ago, is now being utilized.

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The seven-year capital outlay will pay for repairs to 4,700 public housing units – many built between the 1950s and 1980s – and are expected to improve the lives of more than 12,000 tenants.

Although the council committed funding for the project in January 2021, the federal government’s $90 million contribution only recently received final approval.

On Thursday, Linda Laforge, a resident of the Tours de Fontainebleau, listened again to several politicians extol the merits of the investment during a media event on the lawn of her building, which is one of some 730 renovated buildings in the part of the long regeneration project. She told the Star that her unit was in dire need of repairs.

We need to let residents know what’s coming

I’m hopeful that this money will be used for the things we need, to fix our homes as they should be,” Laforge said. She described a large hole in her bathroom ceiling caused by water damage, a stove with broken burners and a crumbling balcony wall.

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“It’s a mess. How long we have to wait for things to be fixed, I don’t know – but we’re all used to waiting.

Housing and Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen announces the start of repairs to 4,700 local social housing units outside the Fontainebleau Towers in Windsor on Thursday August 4, 2022.
Housing and Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen announces the start of repairs to 4,700 local social housing units outside the Fontainebleau Towers in Windsor on Thursday August 4, 2022. Photo by Taylor Campbell /Windsor Star

Michelle Coulis, director of business services and acting CEO of Windsor Essex Community Housing Corp., said some of the money is earmarked for energy efficiency and accessibility. The organization is still studying exactly what is needed “and what will have the greatest impact”. This includes a design phase and the publication of tenders.

“We want to make the announcement before we see a shovel in the ground. We need to let residents know what’s coming,” she said.

The organization’s budget typically covers serious issues in its housing units — “safety, security and building mechanics,” Coulis said. “Things that will enhance your enjoyment of the unit are usually things that are overdue…there are dollars out there for that (now).”

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Federal Housing and Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen visited Windsor for Thursday’s project update, announcing that federal money to repair public housing infrastructure in the area would now begin to sink.

The $90 million from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is divided into a forgivable loan of $36 million—essentially a grant—and a repayable loan of $54 million. The remaining $80 million is the responsibility of the city and county, the cost of which is shared on a per capita basis.

“When we revitalize buildings, when we invest in better social and health outcomes for people, we build stronger, more resilient communities,” Hussen said.

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When asked what his government was doing to house the 6,300 people currently on a waiting list for affordable housing, Hussen said his government was “on it” and had made “a lot of steady, steady progress.” . Budget 2022 was the sixth consecutive budget in which the federal government allocated more money to affordable housing.

“We know we need to continue to invest in affordable housing in places like Windsor-Essex. We just have to keep doing the work until the last family on this list has access to affordable housing.

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Residents of the Fontainebleau Towers in Windsor listen to an announcement outside their building on Thursday, August 4, 2022.
Residents of the Fontainebleau Towers in Windsor listen to an announcement outside their building on Thursday, August 4, 2022. Photo by Taylor Campbell /Windsor Star
Michelle Coulis, Director of Corporate Services and Acting CEO of the Windsor Essex Community Housing Corporation, speaks about $170 million in repairs to 4,700 social housing units during a media event outside the Fontainebleau Towers in Windsor on Thursday August 4, 2022.
Michelle Coulis, Director of Corporate Services and Acting CEO of the Windsor Essex Community Housing Corporation, speaks about $170 million in repairs to 4,700 social housing units during a media event outside the Fontainebleau Towers in Windsor on Thursday August 4, 2022. Photo by Taylor Campbell /Windsor Star
A resident of the Fontainebleau Towers in Windsor listens to an announcement outside her building on Thursday August 4, 2022.
A resident of the Fontainebleau Towers in Windsor listens to an announcement outside her building on Thursday August 4, 2022. Photo by Taylor Campbell /Windsor Star

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