New affordable housing units coming to Mississauga soon

 

With the average house price sitting at $763,451 in Mississauga, homeownership has never been more out of reach for not just lower-income earners, but middle-class residents as well. 

Fortunately for some Mississauga families, some affordable units are going to be included in two of the city's more high-profile condo projects—The Wesley Tower and The Arc. 

To mark World Habitat Day, the Daniels Corporation—which constructed one of the first rental-only buildings in Mississauga following a two-decade purpose-built rental dry spell—announced that it's providing Habitat for Humanity with 10 homes to help create more affordable housing.

Two of the 10 homes will be built in Mississauga's City Centre and Erin Mills neighbourhoods. The other homes will be built in Regent Park in Toronto, Brampton and Pickering. All 10 homes will be completed and occupied between 2019 and 2022, and all homes will house first-time homebuyers. 

"Our 23-year partnership with Daniels is a shining example of their long-standing commitment to bring affordable housing to families in Toronto and the GTA," said Ene Underwood, CEO of Habitat for Humanity at the event. 

"We are proud that Daniels is a pace-setter among the increasing number of developers that see the importance and value of partnering with Habitat for Humanity." 

The Wesley Tower, which is taking shape at Confederation Parkway and City Centre Drive, will be move-in ready in 2021. 

The 43-storey building will boast 403 suites, and one of those has been purchased by Habitat for Humanity and will become home to a middle-income family who cannot access the housing market as is today. 

Another unit will be located in The Arc, which is being built in the Eglinton and Erin Mills Parkway area.

"These are our part of our partnership with Habitat and the program basically allows us to deliver the homes at prices their program can sustain. They're affordable for Habitat and that allows Habitat to move the families in," says Don Pugh, vice-president, Daniels Corporation. 

Daniels also partnered with Habitat to provide affordable units to families in Brampton.

At the event, Vidia Mohammed, a mother of three who recently moved into the Daniels FirstHome Beckenrose in Brampton, said that she, her husband and her children are beyond excited to call a more spacious house with a balcony home.

"The peace of mind I received as part of this generosity and not needing to worry about the roof over my family's head has been a weight permanently lifted off my shoulders," Mohammed told the crowd at the event. 

"I was one of the lucky ones. Every family deserves a place to call home and my heart goes out to the tens of thousands of families who are currently waiting for affordable housing."  

Pugh said that Daniels works directly with Habitat to provide affordable units and has been working with the organization for over two decades. 

"In Mississauga and Brampton, we're doing this on our own in direct partnership with Habitat. We facilitate the purchase to Habitat and they take that over and deal with the partner families. The Habitat partnership is very strong and we look forward to the next 23 years or longer in that relationship." 

Pugh says the corporation anticipates more affordable housing partnerships going forward. 

"As new projects come online, we'll have conversations with Habitat about their needs. Ultimately, the real tug at the heartstring is having days like today and being able to talk about partner families moving in and seeing that excitement." 

While Habitat helps lower-income Canadians find homes, it’s also concerned about middle-income earners being priced out of the GTA market.

In fact, what's most interesting about the Wesley Tower and Arc units is that they're geared towards middle-income earners who cannot afford a home in this red-hot market. 

"We're [creating units for] what we call the gap, the middle generation. Our units will be affordable for people who make $60,000-$120,000 a year," says John Gerrard, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga. 

"First-time homebuyers who can't get into the market who might make a decent amount of money. It's the missing middle, we call it. The City of Mississauga did a brilliant study a year ago. We're taking their model and saying we should be doing this too. There's a huge group that can't live where they work."

Gerrard is referring to Mississauga's Making Room for the Middle plan, which was launched to address the fact that middle-income earners (think teachers, nurses and social workers) can no longer afford houses in the city.

In fact, the city says that data shows that 1 in 3 households spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing and that the number is expected to rise.

"The Arc is the first one so we're very excited. Both of these units will be under the banner of the missing middle. The difference, in this case, is that Habitat will carry part of the home price in a non-interest bearing mortgage." 

Gerrard says the family who occupies the unit will need to get a partial loan from a traditional lender and that Habitat will guarantee a no-interest mortgage on the rest that's never paid back to Habitat until the unit is sold. 

"The family is asked to carry as much of the mortgage as possible and they must keep making $60,000 to $120,000 a year. The mortgage is based on going to a third-party lender who has agreed to provide the family with up to a max of $400,000. Technically the family can afford a $400,000 home. Habitat holds the rest of the mortgage," Gerard says. 

Gerrard says The Arc's two-bedroom, two-bathroom, one-den unit will be home to a family of four. 

"It's fairly large, it's a corner unit. Inside the building, they have basketball facilities that are great for families." 

Gerrard says Habitat has also ensured that the family will be able to afford both the mortgage on the unit and the condo fees. 

Gerrard also says the city's existing Making Room for the Middle plan allows Habitat to work directly with developers like Daniels to create housing that those making more than $60,000 a year can afford. 

"Mississauga implemented the 'missing middle' program and we think it's brilliant and we think as a non-for-profit, this makes sense for us. Our family needs a higher income level to be successful in these projects, but the family is learning to budget with a real financial institution."

Going forward, Habitat has ambitious plans to partner with more developers to potentially obtain full towers and implement a 30/30/30 model that calls for 30 per cent of units to be geared towards middle-income earners, 30 per cent to be sold to lower-income earners and 30 per cent to be sold at market value. 

"We have 11,000 people looking for affordable housing from us. We're in discussions with other developments to buy full towers to do the 30/30/30 model," he says.

The Arc family will be in their unit by December/January and the Wesley Tower family will be decided soon.

Cover photo courtesy of @idris.yyz

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