Habitat for Humanity building four affordable rental apartments in Huntsville

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Before the end of the year, Habitat for Humanity Ontario Gateway North plans to unveil four new affordable rental apartments in Huntsville’s west end.

The model is a new one for the organization in this region and, if successful, may be repeated in other areas.

“Our territory is vast, encompassing six different districts and counties,” noted Kimberley Woodcock, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Ontario Gateway North. “This is a pilot project, which stands to be successful. To repeat and grow the idea throughout our region would be a great service to our communities.”

The building, called Generation Homes, will be located on Irene Street next to another Habitat build and on land the organization already owns, and will have four, two-bedroom units. The ground floor units aim to meet accessibility codes, said Woodcock, and will each be approximately 1,100 square feet; the upper units will be approximately 900 square feet.

“We intend to serve a vulnerable population such as people with mobility challenges, seniors, or single mothers but we haven’t yet defined exactly who might qualify,” said Woodcock. She added that there will be no tenant requirement for service hours (or sweat equity) as there is in Habitat’s home ownershop program. There may, however, be build days for community members who want to support the project.

Woodcock was unable to comment on possible rental rates, but said that what is considered ‘affordable’ is determined by the District Municipality of Muskoka, upholding Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) figures. “The system is not geared-to-income,” she added.

The build is a partnership between Habitat for Humanity Ontario Gateway North, the District of Muskoka, Aitken Frame Homes, and the Rotary Club of Huntsville.

The project is committed to a climate-friendly build methodology designed and constructed by Aitken Frame Homes, which will result in “apartments that are at least 20 per cent more energy efficient than the average home,” according to a release from the organization.

The Rotary Club of Huntsville has pledged a minimum of $50,000 toward the project, and volunteer labour in the finishing stage of the project, landscaping in particular, said Woodcock.

Details about the District’s role in the project weren’t available and District staff did not respond to a request for comment.

Habitat is aiming to raise an additional $300,000 for this project through grant opportunities, corporate sponsorship, major gifts, and a community fundraising campaign.

“We are seeking additional partnerships, corporate sponsors, and major donors to join the success of this innovative pilot project,” said Woodcock. “The affordable housing crisis affects everyone in the community and we invite all to participate in the solution.”

For more information about Generation Homes, contact Habitat for Humanity Ontario Gateway North at 705-646-0106.

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4 Comments

  1. Linda Markle on

    I am a senior & it would only be myself renting one of the units. I would like to add my name to the list.

  2. Rob Millman on

    Thank you so much for making the 2 lower units accessible: It seems to me that many of the “affordable” units discussed/built in the past have considered this to be an afterthought; although persons with disabilities are among the most disadvantaged with respect to earning power. With all the donations (financial and man-hours), however, I cannot understand why the rents are not “geared-to-income”. Any other system of defining rents will eliminate many of those who you are attempting to assist.

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