A location has been selected for a transitional housing complex in Greater Sudbury, but its federal funding has been called into question in the midst of a looming election.
During Tuesday’s city council meeting, a Lorraine Street location, west of the Notre Dame Avenue and Lasalle Boulevard intersection in the New Sudbury neighbourhood, was chosen for the new build, which again received unanimous council support.
The facility is intended to target local people who are chronically homeless and help them transition into permanent community housing with the help of intensive services provided by Health Sciences North.
The city-owned Lorraine Street location was selected over another option at 1127 Brancroft Drive due in large part to the fact it was closer to shovel ready, said Tyler Campbell, the city’s director of children and city social services.
Further, he added the site “has future site potential if council were to look at enhancements in the future.”
Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan said the property’s greenspace offers “a wonderful environment with lots of places to hike and enjoy nature, but more importantly, there is a lot of high-density permanent housing in the area, so once a person graduates from this transitional spot … they can even access apartments that become vacant just up the street or close by.”
Given this close proximity, he said they might still have access to services for follow-up meetings if necessary.
With the site enthusiastically endorsed by council, Campbell said the city is able to forward their application to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which through their Rapid Housing Initiative already pledged $7.4 million toward the project in July.
Since that time, a federal election was called for Sept. 20, which caused at least a couple of councillors to question whether the funding remained secure.
“We do not have the funding secured at this point,” Campbell clarified, adding their application still needs to be approved by the CMHC, and that “the money is not in the bank.”
In the event the funding doesn’t come through, the project is expected to return to council for further discussion.
Regardless of this lingering piece of uncertainty, several city councillors expressed enthusiasm for the project during Tuesday’s meeting, thanking everyone involved for their work in bringing it to this stage.
“There’s been a lot of work -- a lot of sweat equity put into this by everyone concerned,” Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann said, expressing frustration regarding public sentiment she caught wind of that the city isn’t doing anything to address homelessness.
While Tuesday’s discussion centred mainly on site selection, Campbell said future meetings with council will hash out other pertinent details, such as operational costs, size of building and other potential funding sources.
The $7.5 million in CMHC funding is expected to go toward the creation of a minimum of 28 new permanent affordable housing units, though Campell said there is the potential for council to scale it up to 40 units or even the range of 40 to 60 outlined in the original business case.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.