Ranj Pillai, minister of economic development, during a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Ranj Pillai, minister of economic development, during a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

New subsidized affordable housing projects announced across the territory

The government says the new projects will create 102 new units

Eight “shovel-ready” affordable housing projects have been approved as part of the fourth intake of the Yukon government’s Housing Initiatives Fund.

The government says the new projects will create 102 new affordable housing units in Dawson City, Teslin, Watson Lake, Lake Laberge and Whitehorse.

“Every Yukoner deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. Our government supports a multifaceted approach to providing Yukoners with increased housing options,” said Ranj Pillai, minister responsible for the Housing Corp., in the legislature on May 26.

Private developers, community organizations, municipalities and First Nation governments can apply for the program. In exchange for government funding toward the construction project, the new units that are subsidized are required to remain below medium market rent for a fixed period of 20 years.

Approved projects in Whitehorse received $60,000 per unit up to $600,000 per project, while approved projects in rural Yukon received $90,000 per unit up to $900,000 per project.

This announcement marks the program’s fourth intake, and approved projects will get a total of $3.6 million this round.

Previously completed projects under the program include an 18-unit building by Ramza Development Ltd. and a 10-unit project in Haines Junction built by the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations.

Up to $20,000 is available to successful applicants in order to develop their project proposals.

“The applicants who receive this funding will continue to develop their project details and may reapply to the housing initiatives fund or other government funding when they are ready to move forward with construction,“ Pillai said.

On the floor of the legislature, Yukon Party MLA Yvonne Clarke raised concerns about the increasing cost of building materials due to COVID-19. She also inquired as to when the remainder of the 470 units approved in past intakes will be finished.

Pillai said right now 65 units from that number have been completed, and new projects are continually set to open after construction is finished. He said he would seek more detailed answers from the department in order to answer the specific questions posed by opposition parties.

“Under the first three intakes, eight shovel-ready projects have been completed, two are near completion, 19 projects are underway, and three projects are scheduled to start construction,” he said.

NDP MLA Emily Tredger called the news “a recap of a throne speech announcement.” She said the government isn’t moving fast enough to help the 375 waitlisted families who are waiting for affordable housing.

“I want to congratulate the applicants on their projects and thank them for their work, but we cannot leave all the heavy lifting to the private sector,” she said. “Here is what Yukoners want to see: a day when housing is no longer the number one election issue. That will be an accomplishment. When we can stop talking about housing because everyone can afford a place to live, that will be something to be proud of. Until then, we need to do better.”

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

affordable housing

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