June 23rd, 2024

Dodic to present motion asking council to fund LHA project

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on May 29, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Councillor Rajko Dodic will be presenting in June an official business motion calling on council to approve $1,050,000 in funding to the Lethbridge Housing Association for its new supportive housing project being developed on Stafford Drive North.

Dodic told council of his intention during discussion of two motions regarding the project at 416 Stafford Drive North that were pulled from the consent agenda Tuesday to be discussed in a closed session.

Dodic told council other projects have been given support by council and Lethbridge Housing should be treated no differently.

The project is largely being funded by the province. Ground was broken in early March on the project which has a total expected cost of $11,276,000. Of that money, just over $10.2 million is being provided by the Government of Alberta.

When completed, the project will provide 30 units of supportive housing for the city’s vulnerable population, those who are homeless as well as people who live with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and need long-term supports.

Construction started this spring on the facility which is a joint initiative of the provincial government and LHA.

Dodic told council the project originally was for 25 projects but has expanded to 30. He is recommending council approve the requested money which amounts to about $35,000 per door.

Council approved two motions on the LHA on Tuesday – the first was to defer until Aug. 31 payment by the LHA for the servicing costs of bringing utilities to the supportive housing project it is developing on Stafford Drive North. This was passed unanimously.

The second motion, approved by a 7-2 motion, calls for council to bring forward a motion approved at the May 7 Economic and Finance SPC forward to the June 11 council meeting and allow representatives of the LHA and public to speak.

That resolution called for administration to direct LHA to report back by the end of July with information on the project’s budget, budget pressures and the costs associated with them and other project information regarding its request for $1,050,000 in funding for the project.

A report presented to council says the City has $2,714,137 of funding available to support social and affordable housing projects. It adds that supportive housing was identified in the 2019 Municipal Housing Strategy as a priority.

The report to council states that funding the full amount would ensure that the project includes all key aspects.

“LHA has identified that the project is designed to implement key features and infrastructure that are crucial for promoting safety and wellness within our community. Failure to obtain this request may result in substantial cuts to non-infrastructure items, that could be considered subjective, that maintain resident onsite,reduce off-site community impacts and promote participant success,” says the report.

“I’m basically giving a verbal notice of motion that at the June 11 meeting I will bringing an official business motion to fund the Lethbridge Housing Authority the $35,000 per door – being 30 doors – at the ask of $1,050,000.”

Dodic said there was “a little bit of a confusion” as to whether 25 units were funded or 30 units were funded and the reason for that was that there was some information that we didn’t have, or I didn’t have, readily at my disposal at the time of the Economic and Finance committee and that was in fact pre-dating all of the announcements of 30 units and so on. The actual contract with the province was for 25 units so there is a change in scope since there’s more units and there’s a change of use in the building itself,” said Dodic.

“In the past, we’ve had no problems with other organizations coming in and giving them money from this fund,” he said.

“So there is no reason in my mind to treat to Lethbridge Housing Authority any differently than any other organization seeking money for this very worthy project, as all the other ones have been as well,” Dodic added.

A March 5 letter to Housing Solutions Coordinator of Community Social Development Matthew Pitcher from LHA CAO Robin James stated “416 Stafford Drive North will be the first recovery focused, purpose built supportive housing facility in Lethbridge. Supportive housing moves individuals who have experienced long-term homelessness into affordable, individual suites, with on-site and community-based services to help them regain stability and maintain housing. Once housed, they are better able to address other challenges they face, including long term recovery from addictions and mental or physical illnesses. . .

“This is a planned, long-term investment into recovery orientated, affordable housing in Lethbridge. Residents will be selected on need and acuity, with a focus on reducing the number of seniors currently calling the Lethbridge Shelter home. This will also be a positive step for those transitioning from treatment programs into stable housing rather than back to the streets and perpetuating the cycle of addiction,” James wrote of the project whose residents will be based on need and complexity.

“Programming will have recovery focused goals, while providing on-site medical support and rapid access to in house clinical staff. Referrals for the supportive housing program will be recovery based and suited both to the success of the program and the individual,” wrote James.

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