A $5.1-million government grant announced Thursday will help reduce the waiting list for seniors in need of affordable housing in Red Deer.
The Sandpiper is a 40-unit apartment for low to moderate income seniors to be built by the Piper Creek Foundation. It is one of 12 housing projects for seniors and people with disabilities across Alberta sharing $90 million in federal and provincial funding announced Thursday.
“This is huge. This is really, really big. We know that at the lower income levels the vacancy rate is really pretty tight,” said Geoff Olson, executive director of Piper Creek Foundation.
Funding was made available through Canada’s Economic Action Plan and the extension of the Affordable Housing Initiative to create over 800 new housing units.
Construction of The Sandpiper, a $7.9-million, three-storey building, will begin in August and is expected to be complete in the fall of 2012. The building will have underground parking and a roof-top garden.
A mortgage will cover the remaining cost of The Sandpiper.
The Sandpiper will be built on a 1.07-acre empty, wooded lot at 4707-34th St., on the same city block the foundation manages five senior housing projects including Piper Creek Lodge.
Doug Janssen, vice-president with Central Alberta Council on Aging, said this is a tremendous step in the right direction for low-income seniors.
“Anything we can do to get low-cost, affordable housing in Red Deer is in the community’s best interest. We have altogether too many projects and subdivisions that are geared towards the medium and upper incomes,” Janssen said.
Piper Creek has 45 low-income seniors waiting for self-contained apartment units and another 22 seniors with moderate income waiting for affordable units. Piper Creek currently operates 354 apartment units and 49 affordable units.
Olson said The Sandpiper should take care of most of the seniors on those waiting lists.
The Sandpiper will not provide support services for seniors who need help with cleaning or meals or health care, but it will be a barrier-free building for seniors using wheelchairs.
“We have designed it with some features that reflect who seniors are and what their needs are,” Olson said.
“I think it could really be a template for future seniors buildings. We spent a lot of time talking with all of our current residents about what kinds of features they want to see in a building like this.”
For example, carpet will only be put in bedrooms and lower kitchen cupboards will slide out for easy access to items in the back of the cupboard.
Olson said the location is the last lot donated by the Bower family in the 1950s for seniors housing.
“It’s taken us 50 years but we’ve got the whole lot used up now. It’s quite exciting.”
In 2009, the City of Red Deer sold the lot to Piper Creek for $1.
The last time Piper Creek increased its housing was in 2006 when an anonymous donor gave the foundation an apartment building. With renovations, the foundation developed its 49-unit affordable project, Pines Court.