Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 2, 2006
Speaking up kept a roof over his head
Ascot Gardens renter Gary Lazowski fought for a new apartment
By RAMON GONZALEZ
" The city then must be committed not only to buying the units, but to keeping them as affordable housing. "
- Michael Walters
They would have preferred that the units be renovated but as Lazowski put it, "everyone wants to build new because everyone wants to make money."
Lambridge Capital Partners, the developer, is proposing to replace the 235 units at Ascot Gardens with more than 700 condo and apartment suites.
Lazowski believes none of the current residents could afford to buy any of the units. If the city approves zoning plans in November, construction may start in March.
Lazowski says he is worried about the future because there is no affordable housing available in the city and none is being built.
"When my grandkids get old enough to go to work, they are not going to be able to pay $3,000 a month because somebody wants to get rich on us," he said.
GEA learned about Ascot Gardens through one of its member organizations - St. Edmund's Parish, which had been working with the residents.
The coalition got involved and in May it set up a meeting between residents, the developer and Capital Region Housing Corp., Alberta's largest affordable housing provider.
The developer agreed to save five per cent of the new units for affordable housing in keeping with a City of Edmonton recommendation.
Under the agreement, Capital Region Housing, a non-profit corporation that develops and purchases housing units to provide affordable housing, will buy about 40 of the units, and then rent them back to residents at affordable prices, about 30 per cent of a resident's income.
Now it is up to the city to approve the deal. "We have the deal prepared to go ahead pending zoning approval, which we are working on ensuring," said Michael Walters, GEA's only paid activist.
"What we see happening is a model that can be used in this city," New said.
"As far as we can tell from the deal that has been made, this is a model that can work and can be replicated in a lot of different places around the city."
The developer is interested in working with the GEA and the Capital Region Housing Authority, according to Walters.
"The developer himself has committed to us that there will be affordable units in there.
"He's committed to us that all current residents will have first priority in renting the new places."
But, as Walters pointed out, developers aren't interested in being landlords. "They build the project, sell and move on.
"The city then must be committed not only to buying the units, but to keeping them as affordable housing."
Lasowski is happy with the deal. "I never thought we would get this far," he said.
"If anything, we did something for affordable housing in this city."
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