Lanark County heating retrofit program on the agenda for Perth and Almonte properties in 2024

Photo via Lanark County

The second phase of a heating retrofit project will take place this year in Perth and Almonte, thanks to a housing grant allocation by Lanark County.

Emily Hollington, director of community services for Lanark County, sought approval for the housing investment from the committee on Feb. 14, to the tune of nearly $1M in allocated funds through the National Housing Strategy.

The Canada Ontario Community Housing Initiative (COCHI) and Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative (OPHI) are funded through the National Housing Strategy. This is a multi-year plan (2019/2020 to 2027/2028) to stabilize and enhance the community housing sector, and to help with affordability and expand affordable housing options.

The county’s allocation for COCHI is $633,300 and OPHI is $350,000. It is 100 per cent provincially and federally funded, Hollington said.

Phase 2 of the Lanark County Housing Corporation (LCHC) heating retrofit project will be completed this year thanks to the COCHI allocation of $633,300 which will cover properties at 16 Herriott St. in Perth and 176 Robert St. in Almonte.

“In this report, we dedicated the entire COCHI allocation to help fund that really large project,” Hollington said.

She also recommended the OPHI funding of $350,000 for the same term be allocated as follows: rental assistance, $115,000; Ontario Renovates, $200,000; Housing Support Services, $17,500 and Administration, $17,500.

COCHI supports and repairs existing social housing and protects affordability for those in social housing (specifically non-profit).

Last March, the county approved a heating and retrofit project to 1000 Islands Mechanical Ltd. The cost for Phase 1, completed last year at 195 Carss Ave. in Smiths Falls, was $1.386 million, and funded by COCHI and LCHC capital.

OPHI guidelines allow for local priorities including affordability, repair and new construction for the following programs: rental housing, homeownership, Ontario Renovates, rental assistance and housing support services.

Staff recommended continuing with Renovate Lanark and the Housing Allowance programs, and introducing a new allocation for hoarding — to help with cleanup following an eviction — under the Housing Support Services component, Hollington noted, which are intended to improve outcomes for tenants who may need additional support to achieve housing stability.

Coun. Rickey Minnille (Mississippi Mills Deputy Mayor) asked if the funding was comparable to last year’s amounts.

It is similar, Hollington said. “It’s fairly comparable from year to year … it is slightly more, but not much.”

Coun. Richard Kidd (Beckwith Reeve), asked about rent subsidy, and if they were paying the same for someone who has been locked into a lower amount for 10 years compared to a new renter.

Hollington said there is a calculation to determine rental fees.

“We had a legacy program under the investment in affordable housing, which was rent support, but that program was ending,” she said.

Last year, Hollington said they used funding from the homeownership bucket and created a rent supplement program so they could continue to help people who were short on rent.

The homeownership program would see funding provided to help people purchase a home, and when that home is sold, the money is paid back to the county. That is a revolving bucket of funding, Hollington explained.

If the county does not help residents with rent, “there is good chance they will fall behind,” she said, “and end up with an eviction.”

But the funding formula determines how much is offered to tenants to help with rent, and “that’s usually $200 to $300,” she said.

Kidd asked if the rent is higher, would the tenant get more funding.

Hollington confirmed that would be part of the funding formula.

The recommendation was unanimously supported by the committee. It will come to a future council meeting for final approval.

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