Jamesville social housing units to be split between two sites

Instead, the strategy rests on this question: "How do we best meet the needs of our residents and balance our operations?"

Residents are slowly moving out of Jamesville. About 30 units are still occupied, Hunter said, noting many residents have preferred to move to other social housing units now rather than later. "They have a bit more control."

The 45 rent-geared-to-income units at Cannon and Bay will be part of a new six-storey building to be constructed on the site of a parking lot.

That $16.6-million project also includes 10 "moderately affordable units," a recent CityHousing report notes.

Hunter said CityHousing will able to set the rent of the 10 market units because it owns the land. "That is our property. We know what we want."

As it stands, there is no net gain in the number of social housing units between the two projects.

"That will bring us to where we need to be in terms of rebuilding the units that we currently have," said Coun. Chad Collins, who has served as president of CityHousing Hamilton.

But a second phase of the Cannon-Bay project could allow for more units on unused space on the property, he said.

"It's all but a certainty that we will end up with more, but it will happen in a phased approach."

What happens at Jamesville, which will be in private hands, depends on what agreement is reached with the yet-to-be-determined developer.

"But ideally, we'd like to push that affordability out as much as we could," Hunter said.

In recent years, Hamilton has experienced a dramatic spike in rents, sparking protests by local tenant advocacy groups.

"I have never seen a market this tight and tenants being displaced as quickly as they are right now," said Tom Cooper, director of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction.

Cooper said with every new development, 20 to 25 per cent of units should be set aside for affordable housing. "Just to try to catch up a little bit."

There have been "high hopes" for some "bold housing initiatives" to address the affordability gap, he said. "Unfortunately, it hasn't quite got there yet."

Jamesville, in the heart of the North End, is coveted territory. Property values have spiked considerably in recent years with the addition of the North End GO Station and a resurging James Street North.

The city aims to capitalize on the North End's momentum in a private consortium's plans to build 1,300 new homes at Pier 8.

The staff team behind the West Harbour project will handle the Jamesville mixed-income redevelopment, a Sept. 25 CityHousing report notes.

Jamesville also reflects the social housing provider's shift to smaller buildings that are integrated with surrounding neighbourhoods.

The idea is to "reflect a broader spectra of incomes, housing affordability, and diversity of residents," the report says.

This is the model for Roxborough Park in the east end, where CityHousing is partnering with developers to replace social housing townhomes with a mixed-income neighbourhood that includes highrises and condos.

CityHousing isn't demolishing 500 MacNab St. N., however. It has vacated the Ken Soble Tower as part of a $15-million renovation plan for seniors' housing.

On the Mountain, a social housing building with some market rent units, also budgeted at $15 million, is planned for unused space at Macassa Lodge.

In the east end, the city is spending $10 million on seniors' housing at the former City Motor Hotel site.

tmoro@thespec.com

905-526-3264 | @TeviahMoro

tmoro@thespec.com

905-526-3264 | @TeviahMoro

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