PEI

1,000 new units to be created under P.E.I.'s new affordable housing plan

More details were revealed Tuesday about the province's plan to spend $17 million on affordable housing over the next two years, starting with 275 new units this year.

About 1,000 people on Island's waiting list for affordable housing

Housing co-ops like Kings Square are trying to help meet P.E.I.'s need for affordable housing. (Laura Meader/CBC)

More details were revealed Tuesday about the province's plan to spend $17 million on affordable housing — money that will pay for 275 new units this year.

The spending, announced in last week's budget, will create a total of 1,000 new units over the next two years and will also cover renovations to existing units and rent supports. 

The province says the need is great as there are about 1,000 seniors and families on its waiting list for affordable housing.

"It could be persons with disabilities who need accessible housing, it could be for youth who are heading out on their own for the first time and would probably be quite shocked in terms of how much they'd have to pay for monthly rent," said Sonya Cobb, P.E.I.'s director of housing services.

Seniors with accessibility needs are also "causing some pressure," she said.

Vacancy rates across P.E.I. are at record lows, with Charlottetown's vacancy rate at less than one per cent and Summerside's at 2.5 per cent. 

The government has already issued Requests For Proposals (RFPs) for 30 newly constructed units in Charlottetown and 20 in Summerside.

'We just need to make them affordable'

Officials have also begun talking with landlords about supplementing rent for some people who are currently in suitable housing close to schools and their work, but just can't afford it. 

Affordable housing is 'the basis for them being successful in all areas of their lives,' says Sonya Cobb, P.E.I.'s director of housing services. (CBC)

"There are some great units out there on the market right now and we just need to make them affordable for our tenants," said Cobb. 

The province is also developing a provincial housing action plan,  talking with communities, developers and others to get a better overall look at the needs across the province.

"We want some more feedback from them in terms of some options in terms of implementing these 1,000 units," Cobb said. 
 
She said the province hopes to finish that plan by June and begin implementing it quickly "to have some wins for Islanders who are in need of housing."

"It's the basis for them being successful in all areas of their lives," Cobb said.

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With files from Jessica Doria-Brown

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