New affordable housing targets skilled workers, not the poor

By Amber Rockliffe, Global News September 29, 2013 - SASKATOON - A new affordable housing development “Hartford heights” has officially opened in Saskatoon. The complex has the most energy-efficient rental units in all of Canada. The development was created to house skilled workers and their families.

“It’s one thing to have a strong economy but we need homes for people to live in,” said Mayor Don Atchison.

Tenants will have access to credit building and deposit matching programs.

“We work with tenants in those one to three years to help them get over those initial hurdles, so we can actually see them move on into home ownership down the road,” said Tyler Mathies, Innovative Residential co-founder and CEO.

The total cost for the development is about $7.4 million, with the federal and provincial governments jointly pitching in $2 million for the project.

“This project really is for anybody, but in particular we’ve got a lot of key workers in Saskatoon,” said Mathies.

“We can have rents as low as about $750 and $1050 for a 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom home.”

It became apparent the prices may not be ideal for “all” modest income earners.

If two parents, one earning the province’s $10/hour minimum wage full time, and the other earning the minimum wage part time, were to live in the complex with a combined income of less than $2,400 monthly, their rent would have to be less than $720 per month, or they would be paying more than 30 per cent of their gross income to housing.

This is a threshold that is concerning for groups like the Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership. In a release, the organization said it makes people vulnerable to homelessness and food insecurity.

Still, many hope innovative new projects like this will target all wage earners.

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