St. Catharines Mayor, Walter Sendzik, is a strong supporter for finding solutions to the affordable housing issue in Niagara. He is also a big supporter of our new development project on 111 Church Street in St. Catharines.
Bethlehem Housing and Support Services sat down with Mayor Sendzik to discuss the new development project and the affordable housing issue.
The new development is one of the first major builds for affordable housing in the downtown community in roughly a decade as a result of a unique partnership between FirstOntario Credit Union, Penn Terra Group Limited and Bethlehem Housing and Support Services. Mayor Sendzik explains that, “The model of this new development is one we need to move towards.”
Upon discussing the impact this new development will have on the community, Mayor Sendzik explains how transformative it will be in terms of how we look at housing in the downtown area.
He says, “The uniqueness of this affordable housing development is that it’s a multi-stakeholder project. When you take the private sector, the not-for-profit sector and partner with the government, this development will show that you can create something pretty spectacular that serves the needs of the community.”
According to Mayor Sendzik, one of the biggest barriers faced as we move forward with the project is breaking the stereotype that those looking for affordable housing are less worthy of living amongst us.
He explains, “I often get frustrated when I hear comments like ‘I don’t want these people living in our neighbourhood.’ That to me is disrespectful to the folks looking for a decent and affordable place to call home. This project should be welcomed with open arms in our downtown and any other part of our community. I am proud of this project.”
The city of St. Catharines has played an essential role in helping move this project forward. So far they have helped us to secure permits and secure the approval process through the site plan development process.
Mayor Sendzik explains, “The City’s Planning Department has worked very closely with the developers. The staff really believes in this project. It fits with our housing action plan, which identifies the need for social and affordable housing in our community and this is the first project that checks all the boxes in that criteria.”
The new development at 111 Church Street will create opportunities for future affordable housing units in St. Catharines. Bethlehem has been a part of the affordable housing solution since 1988 and Mayor Sendzik believes that our partnership with Penn Terra and FirstOntario will create a model that allows others to participate in solving this challenge.
He says, “This model is getting us closer to how we should be building affordable housing in our community. The collaboration with FirstOntario and Penn Terra allows for more flexibility long term. These are the models we need to actually achieve the kind of numbers required in order to build affordable housing in our community.”
Mayor Sendzik believes that as the new housing development moves forward, we need as many people as possible to speak up about the growing need for affordable housing in Niagara.
To learn more about the City of St. Catharines Housing Action Plan click here.
Watch our conversation with Mayor Sendzik as he explains how he is helping to solve the affordable housing issue in Niagara.