Victoria council has approved a grant of more than $1 million for an affordable housing proposal aiming to bring 158 new units to the Fernwood neighbourhood.
The Capital Region Housing Corporation (CRHC) had applied for a $1.065-million grant for the proposal, dubbed the Caledonia redevelopment, from the Victoria Housing Reserve Fund which supports below-market-rate rental housing projects.
The reserve fund generally has a cap of $500,000 per project, to allow multiple applications to receive funding each cycle. However, the Caledonia project was the only applicant in the most recent intake period. City staff also noted the project strongly aligns with the fund’s objectives.
Councillors asked staff last month to find more information about how the increased funds would be used and if the higher amount would translate into lower rents for future residents. CRHC provided a breakdown of the higher figure’s impact on the project, which was discussed at council’s Dec. 9 meeting.
Provincial funding for the project requires it to price 20 per cent of the units appropriately for tenants on income assistance or otherwise requiring deep rent subsidies, and 50 per cent priced at a point that does not exceed 30 per cent of the household’s gross income.
The remaining 30 per cent of units are required to be rented at below-market level. The non-profit housing corporation’s breakdown shows the more than $1 million allocation would lower monthly rents by $400 for the one and three-bedroom units, and $300 for the proposal’s two and four-bedroom homes.
The city’s housing reserve fund allows for 50 per cent of the grant to be allocated once an agreement is signed. For the Caledonia project, CRHC said those funds will go toward completing working drawings, obtaining a building permit and covering a portion of the almost $600,000 in development cost charges owed to the city.
Since the project required the existing site to be rezoned, the housing corporation is obligated to make off-site improvements. Those include a 400-metre pedestrian greenway that will connect Grant Street and Gladstone Avenue, extending the Fernwood Community Gardens and widening Vining Street to accommodate emergency vehicles.
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