Premier Sandy Silver presents a pair of work boots to Jillian Hardie of the Challenge Disability Resource Group earlier this March. (Twitter)

Hours before deadline, YG announces cash for non-profit to buy land for affordable housing

$750k allows Challenge to buy land, no word yet on funding for construction

Challenge Disability Resource Group now has the money it needs to buy a piece of land for its new proposed affordable housing complex.

In a press release issued this afternoon, the Yukon government said it is giving Challenge approximately $750,000 to help pay for the lot. The land cost a total of $836,000, said Challenge’s executive director Jillian Hardie. The non-profit is paying the rest of the money.

“We’re extremely excited that the land is purchased and this is the first really big step of moving forward with the whole development,” Hardie said.

Today was the deadline for Challenge to pay the City of Whitehorse for the lot at 704 Main St. If the paperwork hadn’t been completed by the end of the work day it’s likely the land would have gone back up for sale and Challenge would have had to wait 30 days before it could bid again.

Hardie said the organization received the cheque from the territorial government on Thursday.

The Cornerstone building is slated to have seven penthouse condo units that would be put up for sale and 46 affordable rental units set at $950 a month, all-inclusive.

The design also provides office space for Challenge’s employment services, as well as Twisted Wood Works and Bridges catering.

The Yukon government has promised more funding to help with the construction of the building, but so far is not saying how much that will be. The two sides are “finalizing an agreement about additional funding support for the construction,” according to the government’s press release.

Challenge had requested a one-time grant of $7 million to go toward the $17.8-million project.

Since then, the organization has gone to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Innovation Fund looking for $2.4 million. Hardie said a meeting with the federal corporation earlier this month “went well but I can’t say anything about it right now.”

Hardie said she is “very confident” the organization will get the money it needs to build the complex.

She said she’ll be working with the territorial government over the next few months to develop a timeline and financing.

In a statement, Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost said Challenge’s project will help alleviate affordable housing pressures in the community.

“Support for the land purchase is part of a larger commitment that this government will make to Challenge Disability Resource Group. We are excited to continue support for this project as we know it will bring great benefits to the community,” she said.

The Liberals have avoided answering questions about how they’ll spend $6 million worth of affordable housing money listed in the budget for this year.

Premier Sandy Silver told opposition parties that details will be discussed when the housing portion of the budget is debated later this sitting.

Challenge signed a deal with the city to buy the land last year. The deadline to pay was most recently extended early this year.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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