More low income seniors housing in the works

Plans are in the works for a new 48-unit seniors housing complex somewhere in Whitehorse. The full request for proposals was made public this morning after part of the tender was accidently released early.

Plans are in the works for a new 48-unit seniors housing complex somewhere in Whitehorse.

The full request for proposals was made public this morning after part of the tender was accidently released early.

The complex will be a traditional social-housing building run by the Yukon Housing Corporation, but geared specifically towards low-income seniors.

“It’s incorporating more accessibility suites, trying to adapt more to aging-in-place for some of our seniors,” said Michael Hale, vice-president of the housing corporation. “We’re quite excited about it. It will be one of our largest buildings.”

All the apartments will be one-bedroom suites, including 10 barrier-free units. That means they include things like a roll-in shower for renters in wheelchairs, mechanized upper cabinets in the kitchen to residents help reach the top shelf, and adjusted ceiling heights so the rooms can be equipped with lifts if necessary.

These features don’t exist in the housing corporation’s existing stock, Hale said. Four similar units have been built at the Yukon housing property on Alexander Street, which opens in September.

“It’s going to focus on trying to adapt to what we are seeing in our seniors’ lifestyles,” Hale said. “Places to put your scooter, plug it in and charge it, appropriate parking, appropriate access to transit and location of services, those kind of things.”

Without barrier-free units, seniors in need are often forced to pay for costly renovations to private property or move into a full-care facility, Hale said.

He can’t say exactly where the new building will be built. Unlike construction projects in the past, where a piece of land is identified to build on, contractors in this case will have to supply their own land.

“There simply isn’t that much land anymore. So that’s changed, I suspect, for everyone who’s doing large-scale construction like this,” Hale said.

In the request for proposals, the housing corporation lays out preferences for where it would like to build.

The downtown core is listed as the top priority, followed by Riverdale and then the rest of the city.

The cost of rent for these units will be linked to a person’s income.

To live in Yukon social housing, a person pays 25 per cent of gross income as rent.

As of May 31, there were 133 seniors on the waiting list for social housing. Of those, 64 people have been allocated a spot and are in the process of moving, officials say.

At the end of May, part of this latest tender was accidentally emailed to a company that may bid on the project.

To keep everything fair, those pages, that are now part of the larger package, were made public early.

The tender closes on July 9.

According to the document, the building is scheduled to be completed in October 2015.

In the latest territorial budget, $12 million was set aside for the project.

Meanwhile, the seniors housing complex at 207 Alexander is nearly ready to be occupied. Hale said everything should be done by September.

The 34-unit complex has 21 more apartments than it did in an earlier incarnation.

The territory had previously planned to use the older building as supportive housing for people with disabilities.

After residents moved to a new property at Waterfront Place, officials discovered it would cost more to renovate the building than tear it down and rebuild from scratch.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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