Kitchener-Waterloo

North Dumfries affordable housing project gets $240K loan from region

The region's community services committee has agreed to provide a $240,000 loan to a citizen's group in Ayr to build affordable housing units, but one councillor worried the approval sets a precedent for future requests.

Councillor warns approving loan sets precedent for future requests

The region's community services committee voted in favour of a recommendation to loan the Ayr and District Citizens Association $240,000 to finish an expansion of an affordable housing complex. That decision will need to be ratified by council later this month. (Google StreetView)

A citizens group in Ayr is expected to receive a $240,000 loan from the region to finish a 21-unit affordable housing project.

But in approving the funding at the region's community services committee meeting on Tuesday, regional Coun. Geoff Lorentz, who represents Kitchener, said he felt they were setting a precedent for similar requests in the future.

"We understand that the need is very great. I'm just a little concerned, are setting a precedent here that every time someone goes through the motions and then finds out their budget is overrun and there's a large shortfall needed that the region's going to pick up the tab?" he asked, noting the staff report didn't indicate how the loan would be recovered.

The funding would come from the region's housing revolving loan fund, which currently has a balance of $450,000.

Lorentz asked if any previous loans from the fund have gone unpaid and staff said there are a few outstanding loans.

Project 'came in significantly over budget'

The Ayr and District Citizens Association is building a 21-unit addition onto their existing 32-unit building on Stanley Street in Ayr.

A staff report to the committee noted the construction bids "came in significantly over budget" with the lowest bid being $800,000 over budget.

The group has worked to find other funding commitments to move forward with the project, but needs the additional $240,000 to ensure the work gets completed so the units can be rented.

North Dumfries Mayor Sue Foxton said she understood Lorentz's point but the group building the affordable housing units has existed for more than 30 years, have paid off more than $1 million in loans on the initial project and are mortgage free.

The current project will include assisted living, she said.

"A lot of our seniors who are of lower income want to remain within the community and we do not have housing for them," she said. 

Foxton added the group takes "great pride" in paying off loans and she has "no qualms" about the loan.

The committee passed the recommendation to provide the loan to the association. That decision will need to be ratified at the regional council meeting on Aug. 22.

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