Affordable housing coming

The Yukon government will spend up to $11 million for affordable-housing units for women and single mothers.

The Yukon government will spend up to $11 million for affordable-housing units for women and single mothers.

The facility is expected to have up to 30 housing units and is slated for completion within the next two-and-a-half years, Elaine Taylor, the minister responsible for the women’s directorate, told a news conference on Tuesday.

That works out to roughly $333,000 per unit, about half the cost of the Canada Games’ athletes’ village.

And that estimated cost includes other facilities expected to be included in the affordable housing complex, such as a communal kitchen, library, security and firefighting measures and daycare services, said women’s directorate spokesperson Brenda Barnes.

Exactly what will be included in the complex will be determined through consultations with women and stakeholders, she said.

There are currently 65 people waiting for social housing in Whitehorse.

And 38 per cent of those are single mothers with children.

Another 11 per cent are women who suffered abuse.

“There’s a need to increase access to affordable housing for women in the Yukon,” said Taylor.

“This will help to reduce the incidence of violence against women.”

The government plans to find a location, buy land, design the building, deal with zoning issues and tender the project, she said.

“I am hesitant to say whether it will be ready next year,” she said.

“But (it will be) within the next two to two-and-a-half years.”

Narrow Gauge Contracting is also planning an affordable housing complex.

Located near the community gardens, the two-storey building would contain eight two-bedroom units and four one-bedroom apartments.

The two-bedroom units would sell for $199,000, said Narrow Gauge owner Doug Gilday on Tuesday.

Although he’s had no trouble selling his high-end condos, Gilday decided to dabble in affordable housing.

“The market needs it,” he said.

“And I guess you could say we’re motivated by our conscience to try and do something.”

If Gilday gets buy-in, Narrow Gauge will break ground in the spring, and the apartments will be ready by fall, he said.

The building will be energy efficient and have good air quality, he said. Because it is only two storeys, Narrow Gauge can cut costs by eliminating the need for an elevator or a sprinkler system.

Funding for the government’s new affordable housing complex is being drawn from the northern housing trust fund, a federal grant.

The project will be managed by the Yukon Housing Corp.

A woman-only building was rejected in initial consultations.

Women’s groups, transition homes and social housing clients suggested secure housing close to schools, daycares, and transportation, according to those initial consultations.

As a result, the government is considering including larger social housing units within its new complex to accommodate women with children, said Taylor.

To review the findings of those consultations, visit www.womensdirectorate.gov.yk.ca.

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