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Cochrane looking at other ways of creating affordable housing

One option is a village of micro homes for seniors

COCHRANE — A Northern Ontario town is considering other avenues for creating more affordable housing.

While it’s uncertain at this point whether a 30-storey building offering one-bedroom apartments or a village of micro homes for seniors is needed, the Town of Cochrane is considering a partnership with Habitat for Humanity Ontario Getaway North.

Michael Cullen, the organization’s director of community partnerships, presented some solutions to council on May 2. He said they’ve also been in talks with the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board (CDSSAB).

The organization falls the gap between affordable rentals and affordable home ownership.

“We work hard so that that continuum actually moves. So the people living in supportive housing, the people that are homeless, and the people that need the housing can start to move into the spectrum,” he said.

The organization looks at land trust, Cullen said.

“Which is a concept where Habitat would own a land, let's say it's two acres, and we would do a land trust where we would actually sell titles on the homes, not the land. That’s been very successful across the country,” he said.

The organization is currently working on an affordable housing strategy with the Municipality of Markstay-Warren, east of Sudbury, which is aiming to build as many homes in as short a timeframe as possible.

Mayor Peter Politis said the initiative could help people in the low-income bracket who might not meet the criteria for a mortgage.

“This is part of a comprehensive housing strategy that we initiated where we're trying to look at different options and opportunities for different people in need and different opportunities for folks to own homes,” he said.

Cullen said there’s an urgency for one-bedroom apartments across the North. However, the goal is to create a model that can be duplicated.

“Something that's created in the North for the North,” he said.

A partnership with the organization would provide people with opportunities who wouldn’t typically receive similar opportunities, Politis said.

“When we hook up with some of the other social service providers in the province and create a three-way partnership where we all leverage each other's strengths and opportunities and we bring the rebate program to the table as well to make this affordable, the end result is we're providing people opportunities, who typically wouldn't receive opportunities,” he said.

Cochrane is currently in the midst of preparing to sell plots of land as low as $10. The intention behind the concept, which was first discussed by council in the fall, is to bring more people to the region and offer the opportunity to own a home.

— TimminsToday