Spread the word – $86 million available for affordable housing projects

By Lincoln DePradine

Ahmed Hussen receives a gift from Pam Campbell

The federal government has budgeted more than $86 Billion for affordable housing projects but too many people in the Black community are unaware of the programs, according to cabinet minister Ahmed Hussen.

“We want people to spread awareness about programs they can benefit from,’’ said Hussen, Minister of Housing, Diversity and Inclusion.

Hussen made the remarks on “National Housing Day’’, while attending a function at Blackhurst Cultural Centre (BCC) on Bathurst Street in Toronto.

BCC, formerly A Different Booklist Cultural Centre, is preparing to move to a new location across the street at 756 Bathurst Street in Mirvish Village.

The function with Hussen was to announce plans for an affordable housing project that will be included at the Mirvish Village facility.

The project is a partnership involving BCC; Woodgreen Community Housing – the housing agency of Woodgreen Community Services; Westbank Corporation; and City of Toronto.

Some community members present at the announcement at Blackhurst Community Centre

The initiative calls for the construction of 12 housing units, available at 80 percent average market rate, for Black cultural creators.

“As we move forward to our permanent home in the new Mirvish Village, we have sought ways to bring others along with us on this journey as we build community and capacity,’’ said BCC chair Judith Brooks. “This is a proud moment for Blackhurst Cultural Centre and we thank Woodgreen Community Housing and its team for their due diligence and expertise. Westbank can also be commended for embracing the vision.”

The new block at Mirvish Village “will reflect the experience of people of African descent, people of the Black experience and people of Caribbean ancestry. We’re excited about that,’’ said Itah Sadu, BCC managing director.

“Our collective efforts have produced 12 units for Black cultural creatives here at Bathurst and Bloor, so that people can create and build and continue having deeper roots here in this community.’’

Former MPP Zanana Akande, senior patron of BCC, described the announcement as “a good day’’, saying “this is my home; this is where I grew up. I’ll back you every day with the last nickel I have, just to make sure that when my grandchildren walk down Bathurst Street they will remember we were there’’.

Other speakers included Westbank Corporation’s vice president Tyson Parker and Woodgreen’s executive Mwarigha.

“This is one of the highlights of my housing portfolio work,’’ said Woodgreen vice-president Mwarigha, who is responsible for the agency’s housing and homelessness services. “I just want people to recognize this as a beginning. Let’s build this partnership to where it needs to go.’’

The government doesn’t want people to be displaced because of high rental costs and has put programs in place, such as the Canada Housing Benefit, which provides “direct rental supplements to people that need it. Unfortunately, not everyone knows about it’’, Hussen said in his remarks.

He also referenced other government programs, including the Rapid Housing Initiative

It’s a $1.5 billion government initiative in which funding is divided into different rounds in two streams.

Round three of the Rapid Housing Initiative, for non-profit organizations, opens this month. “The federal government would fund the entire project as a grant, not as a loan. you’ll have 90 days to apply,’’ the minister said.

“You’ll have to either renovate or build in 12 months or less. And, the second condition is you’ll have to target one or more vulnerable populations,’’ he added.

“Please, please, consider applying for the Rapid Housing Initiative. It’s a great program and there’s a billion dollars on the table.’’


LJI Report.