Tenants move into affordable housing unit in Alberton

Christopher Wallace sits in his new apartment with his son, Owen LaFrance. His is one of 12 units in a new apartment building recently constructed in the Town of Alberton. Two more units are also being built in O’Leary. In total, these three are among 366 new housing units in the province.       Jillian Trainor photo

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Christopher Wallace likes the fact there’s more room to maneuver in his new two bedroom apartment. 

Mr Wallace recently moved into one of 12 apartments in a new housing unit built in Alberton. Prior to this, he was living at the motel on the outskirts of the town. He said there’s no comparison whatsoever.

“You can actually walk around, people can actually come over” he said. “This is a place where you can actually sit down and enjoy where you’re living, and a place for my little fellow.”

The apartments in the new complex are mixed units, meaning six are for seniors housing and six are for families. The new units are open spaced, with lots of counter space and storage in the kitchens, hall closets big enough to store a washer and dryer, nice sized bedrooms with lots of light, and sliding doors that lead outside.

Two new housing units are also going up in O’Leary. These units and the one in Alberton are among the 366 housing units built throughout the province that are either occupied or will be occupied in the coming months in an effort to help with the province’s housing crisis.

Once these units are occupied, the vacancy rate in the province will go from .3 per cent to 1.3 per cent. Ernie Hudson, Minister of Social Development and Housing, said it’s an increase that’s going to make a dent in the need for housing in the province.

“The ideal vacancy rate from both a tenant’s perspective and a landlord’s perspective is in the range of three to five per cent,” he said. “There is some work to do yet, without a doubt, but with the partners that we have across the province, we are making headway there.”

There’s been no word on whether new units will be built in Tignish. Minister Hudson said more announcements on housing across the province will be made in the coming months, but can’t say more than that at this time.

Homelessness is another factor of the housing crisis in the province. Minister Hudson pointed at the need for transitional housing for those staying at places like Blooming House, or Bedford MacDonald House in Charlottetown.

“Those locations provide a tremendous service, but they are temporary,” he said. “For the individuals that are making use of those facilities, we have to look at transitional housing too over that time period to get them into more long-term housing.”

It’s not housing in general that’s an issue, for many in the province the issue has been the difficulty in finding affordable housing. There is help through the Department of Social Development and Housing, as it offers rental assistance programs to help supplement rental costs, along with mobile rentals vouchers.

When it comes to finding affordable housing in the province, Mr Wallace said a lot of people who work minimum wage jobs can’t afford what’s out there right now.

He said when he found out he was approved for one of the new units, a weight was lifted off his shoulders.

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