Sound studio

Gray supportive housing for the city’s homeless moves forward

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Gray County is moving forward with a plan to turn an apartment building in Owen Sound into supportive housing for homeless people.

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Councilors voted Aug. 11 to hire JP Commercial Contractors, an Owen Sound company that offered $3,743,000 plus HST to renovate the building at 396 14th St. W. There were two bidders in the request for proposals.

Construction is due to begin this month and end around April 15. The project requires Owen Sound Site Plan approval.

The project will create 12 studio-style units for priority people on the county’s list of people who need support, called the List by Name.

There are 120 names on the list at last report, including 53 who are considered chronically homeless – defined as being homeless for more than six months in the past year.

The housing will provide a supported living environment where residents can learn skills, engage in community supports and develop relationships that will be important to their future success, according to program information.

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Southgate Deputy Mayor Brian Milne called it an “exciting project”, but noted that the floor plan shows five offices and 11 workstations. “Is this the staffing level necessary for this project? »

The workspace provides for 24/7 staffing, county housing director Anne Marie Shaw told councillors, but staffing will be determined by the amount of money received of the Ontario Health Team. The transitional housing partner, the Canadian Mental Health Association, applied for the funding, she said.

As such, the 15,500 square foot building will have onsite supports for residents, office space for staff and the community, and programming space, such as for life skills training. People who work on the name list, homelessness outreach staff and community partners will also use the facility.

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Shaw said the supportive housing will be for a variety of people, including people who are homeless and those who need physical assistance, mental health support or addiction support.

The county bought the property for $1.2 million, paid for from the nearly $2 million it received from the province’s Social Services Relief Fund.

Other sources of secured and pending funding include the Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiatives, the Co-Investment Contribution Fund through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and the Affordable Housing Fund.

The balance will be financed by an external or internal debenture. The net tax levy requirement is estimated at $113,300 per year. Shaw’s report to the council noted that this equates to just under $26 per night or $787 per month per unit.

“This is significantly less than current market rates for emergency lodging in a motel or boy’s apartment,” not including staffing costs, she wrote.

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