Half the apartments in Fredericton project will be considered affordable housing
Developer says he'll keep rents low by offering 'really basic' housing
An apartment development on Fredericton's north side recently approved by council comes with a lofty plan — that half the 198 units be considered affordable housing.
Developer Anil Patel said he hopes this will bring some relief to the rental market in the city, where the vacancy rate is less than two per cent.
Patel and his wife Pinal immigrated to Canada from India in the early 2000s and said they know the struggle of trying to find an affordable place to live.
"Me and my wife, we always thought about this over the years, that Canada has given us quite a bit, so this is now time to pay back," Patel said.
Patel said he remembers sleeping in a freezing cold basement with the hopes of finding something better.
Now based in Hamilton, Ont., the couple plan to retire in New Brunswick and have been buying properties in Fredericton.
"So then we started looking into it like, 'OK, if you're going to move, let's start looking into investing in something there'," he said. "That's how the whole thing started."
The planned development at 168-170 Greenwood Dr. consists of two buildings with 198 units and 99 of them will be considered affordable, said Patel, geared toward newcomers and those who can't afford climbing rents.
"If you come here and just to have find something reasonable or not, that's even second question. Just to find something, it is a challenge."
Patel said it will still be a for–profit development, but he hopes he can make it work with the help of different government subsidies and programs.
He hopes to tap into the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's rental construction financing initiative to help finance the project.
Developers who use that program must promise that a certain number of units will be rented for at least 10 years at rates less than 30 per cent of the median family income for the area.
In Fredericton that works out to about $1,500 a month.
Patel said he's not sure what he'll be able to charge yet, but said the affordable rents at his build will cost far less than that.
He said the plan is to keep the cost as low as possible by keeping things simple.
"We're just going to build really basic apartments," he said.
The rezoning required for the project passed unanimously at Monday night's council meeting.
In an interview, the chair of the city's economic vitality committee, Jason Lejeune noted that these apartments are considered affordable but many won't be subsidized units.
"It's absolutely a good development," said Lejeune. "It's absolutely serving the universal needs of the community."
The housing needs assessment for Fredericton conducted by Turner Drake Consulting found the city needs about 2,500 affordable housing units and 1,500 subsidized units, as well as at least 50 emergency shelter spaces.
"We need developers committed to meeting that broader community need," said Lejeune.
Patel expects construction to begin by the summer.