The government of Canada, along with the City of London, has announced a $40.1-million investment into creating more affordable housing in London.
The money, a loan from the federal government, will go towards London & Middlesex Community Housing (LMCH) to support the repair and reinvestment of 2,082 housing units in London.
“If we want our communities to thrive, we need to ensure every Canadian has a roof over their head, it’s that simple,” said Ahmed Hussen, minister of families, children and social development and minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
“When you have a roof over your head, you are able to pursue educational opportunities, work opportunities, and are able to thrive and contribute to our community.”
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This funding comes from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s National Housing Co-Investment Fund (NHCF), which supports the creation and revitalization of affordable housing. A portion of the loan, $15.5 million, will be forgivable, while the remainder will need to be repaid.
Hussen said the portion of the loan that is forgivable is based on the condition the units continue to rent for less than 30 per cent of the average median household income in London for a minimum of 20 years.
“With this funding, we will be able to improve the quality of the homes we offer with modernized accessibility and energy-efficient upgrades. This in turn will help improve the quality of life for residents who live with us at LMCH so that they can spend their years in comfort,” said Andrea Mackenzie, CEO of London & Middlesex Community Housing.
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Twenty per cent of the units will have to meet accessibility requirements and the project also aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by making the units more energy-efficient by at least 25 per cent.
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“Today was about preserving and rejuvenating the existing housings stock that London has,” the minister said.
“There is no point building more affordable housing if we can’t maintain what we already have.”
The units will be prioritized to help London’s most vulnerable, including homeless people, women and children fleeing domestic violence, and people with disabilities, Hussen said.
The minister said this is the fourth or fifth announcement he has made in London about affordable housing because there is “ambition and leadership” to tackle the housing issues.
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“The issue of providing quality affordable housing is one that has absolutely united our council, and the community at large. We are grateful to have the federal government and CMHC as responsive and compassionate partners in this vital, life-changing work,” said London Mayor Ed Holder.
“Not only will these funds allow us to restore and regenerate thousands of existing affordable housing units, but in so doing, we are also able to restore a sense of dignity and belonging to thousands of Londoners.”
Holder said this funding will help the community work towards the goal of achieving functional zero for chronic homeless within five years.
During his state of the city address in February, Holder announced London had made history by becoming the first community in Canada to achieve functional zero for veteran homelessness. That means the number of veterans experiencing homelessness is less than or equal to the number of veterans the city can house in a month.
“By providing support to the London & Middlesex Community Housing portfolio, our government is committing to ending chronic homelessness here in London and across Canada,” said Kate Young, member of Parliament for London West.
With files from Jake Jeffrey
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