During Monday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting in Smiths Falls, town staff presented Council with a Rapid Housing report. The Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) is a Federal grant project which will spread $1 billion across the country to meet urgent housing needs. Half of that money will go to housing projects in major urban centres, and the other half is available to meet housing needs in smaller communities.
Carebridge Community Support is applying for the RHI, with a view of building a 28-unit rental building at 44 Chambers St in Smiths Falls, across from Giant Tiger. Robert Eves, CEO of Carebridge, attended the virtual CoW meeting to answer questions from Council. Eves is hopeful that this application, if successful, would benefit generations. “This would be fantastic – it’s the first time in my career I’ve come across any sort of grant like this. We wouldn’t have a mortgage -” which would enable every unit in the new development to be affordably priced. “This isn’t transitional housing. It’s permanent affordable housing.” The 28-unit building would have units of varying size to meet the needs of singles, small families, and larger families. Eves explained that each applicant for affordable housing goes through Lanark County’s selection process, which seeks to prioritize vulnerable members of the community.
“This development really does tick all the boxes of our housing strategy,” enthused Councillor Dwyer. “This is an excellent location and a great environment for affordable housing,” added Mayor Pankow, “We are grateful to Carebridge for taking the lead on this. It’s a very exhaustive application process, and Council is solidly behind this.”
Eves noted that “even if the RHI doesn’t come through, [Carebridge] will continue to push for funding from other avenues: we want to see a project on that site.”
Non-profit organizations which apply for the grant must have the support of their communities, and a project planned and ready to go which will be completed within 12 months of approval. “Operation Warp Speed,” chuckled Councillor Alford, who chaired the meeting, “this is good news, really good news.”