Northumberland County has the responsibility of providing affordable housing and currently owns and operates 344 social housing units. But there is a problem, the waitlist for RGI (Rent Geared to Income) housing is currently “nearly 700 households … in Cobourg”. A newly developed Affordable Housing Strategy points to 4 goals and 44 actions to solve the problem and will be presented at the County Council meeting on March 20. Also at that meeting, Council will be asked to approve a project to add 22 units to the existing 18 at their current Elgin Street property. These duplex houses are now 50 years old so it’s proposed to re-develop the complex into higher density. Because of the need to rezone and obtain financing, it will likely be a while before work starts.
Affordable Housing Strategy
See the links below for the Strategic Plan document and the presentation to County Council – both are long. This summary is a significantly abbreviated version.
Goal 1: Increase the supply of rental housing which is affordable to households with low and moderate incomes and achieve a functional zero end to homelessness. 23 Actions identified.
Goal 2: Expand the supply of housing with supports and support services in appropriate locations throughout Northumberland. 8 Actions identified.
Goal 3: Encourage and support the development of a diverse housing stock, including accessible housing options, smaller units, and options to facilitate aging in place, in all Northumberland communities. 9 Actions identified.
Goal 4: Ensure the entire housing stock is well-maintained and in good condition. 4 Actions identified.
Four actions are listed that require an immediate start since others depend on these:
- 1.5. Work with member municipalities who currently have community improvement plans (CIPs) or who are developing CIPs to include programs to support the development of affordable and rental housing.
- 1.12. Building on current initiatives, work with the Northumberland Affordable Housing Committee (NAHC) to develop a YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) Team to take the lead in education and awareness initiatives.
- 1.15. Create a Northumberland Affordable and Rental Housing Strategy Implementation Working Group to lead the implementation of all the recommended strategies. This Implementation Working Group should include representatives from each of the member municipalities.
- 1.16. Develop an Implementation Plan, which includes an annual budget, to guide the implementation of the recommended actions in the Northumberland Affordable Housing Strategy.
As well as building new social housing units, the strategy includes
- Encouraging add-on housing (“accessory Dwelling”) to existing homes and over stores etc.
- Facilitate partnerships and collaborations with residential developers to build affordable and market-rate rental housing.
- 90 units per year. That is, 25% new affordable units out of a total of 360 units (of all kinds) created each year
- 900 affordable units by 2029
- 3,600 new units (of all kinds) by 2029
To help with all this, in 2019, the County says that they will “begin work to complete a Social Housing Master Plan and Northumberland County Housing Corporation (NCHC) Strategic Asset Management Plan”.
Elgin Street property
At the south-east corner of D’Arcy and Elgin, the County has 9 duplexes with 4 two bedroom units, 8 three bedroom units and 6 four bedroom units (photo at right).
Over 180 households are on the current waitlist for Elgin Street units. The re-development will maintain existing units and add 10 RGI units and 12 market rent units including 14 one bedroom units as identified as most needed in the waitlist. When completed, there will be a series of alternating four and six-plex buildings. Current tenants have been notified of the plan and how they might be impacted – none will lose their tenancy although as vacancies occur, they will not be replaced in the short term. The project will require that the Town increase Zoning density from R3 to R4.
At the end of their memo about this project, there is a statement about impact to Member Municipalities which says:
Impacts to member municipalities at present are minimal, however as the project moves forward the County will be seeking the Town of Cobourg’s support for this project through incentives as per the forthcoming Affordable Housing Strategy.
Cobourg will need to rezone the property but perhaps they will also be asked for financial support. Perhaps Cobourg needs a Community Improvement Plan for this location.
See also my recent post about Cobourg Housing where there are some numbers on vacancies and rental costs. But it does look like the County is in fact working on resolving the shortage in rental and affordable housing.
For more detail, read the documents in the following links – all pdfs.
- Memo from Staff about the Elgin Street project
- Presentation about the Elgin Street project
- Affordable Housing Strategy memo from Staff
- Affordable Housing Strategy report from Consultant
- Affordable Housing Strategy Presentation