Public housing needs more funds for maintenance
August 27, 2009 | Terry Pender, Record Staff |
City defers development charges for affordable housing apartmentsKITCHENER–Federal and provincial governments have to provide more funds for the maintenance of social housing to prevent repeats of the fiasco now unfolding on David Street, Regional Coun. Sean Strickland, said.
Strickland, who chairs the region’s community services committee, said the Regional Municipality of Waterloo inherited a long list for repairs and maintenance when the province downloaded social housing in 2001.
Strickland made his comments as 11 families are being moved out of small apartment buildings at 31, 35 and 39 David St. over fears of exposure to mould, rotten beams and leaking roofs. Last month, the families in the four units at 43 David St. were moved out for the same reasons.
The buildings are owned and operated by Kitchener Housing Inc., one of more than 50 providers of social, co-operative and non-profit housing that are overseen and funded by the region.
“It is definitely an example of some of the issues that our affordable housing programs are facing,” Strickland said of the situation on David Street.
The Regional Municipality of Waterloo received $18.5 million for repairs and maintenance of social housing in June from upper levels of government. But the more than 50 providers of social housing in the region have submitted a list of worth $43 million.
“We will prioritize the projects that need to happen the soonest and then we will allocate the money accordingly,” Strickland said.
Housing officials at the region are expected to table a report on Sept. 15 that will detail how that $18.5 million should be spent.
Kitchener Housing Inc., the City of Kitchener’s municipal non-profit housing corporation that has 18 sites with 563 rental units in the city core, has asked for $4.2 million of that funding for maintenance.
But it’s not known how much, if any of those funds, will be spent on the troubled David Street properties.
No decisions will be made about the future of the buildings until after environmental tests are finished and estimated budgets for repairs are produced, Karen Kwiatkowski, the general manager of Kitchener Housing Inc., said.
That should be done sometime in October, Kwiatkowski said.
The David Street buildings were constructed in 1992 as part of a larger $14.5 million project that included the conversion of the old Victoria School into housing. There was a lot of social housing built around the province at that time.
“When this massive build was being done in the 1980s and ’90s, everyone was so furious to build as quickly as possible, things could have been overlooked and you just have repairs to make, basically, when you are handed the keys,” Kwiatkowski said.
Some residents of the David Street apartments say there was a lack of maintenance and repairs, but Kwiatkowski defends the organization’s maintenance record.
“I have the numbers and schedules to prove that we have been in there again and gain over many, many years trying to address the leaks and making modifications in there,” Kwiatkowski said.
“It is always a matter of funding and what you are able to spend on an annual basis,” Kwiatkowski said. “We have to work within our operating budgets and capital budgets and it’s quite a balance.”
Kitchener Housing Inc. receives about $4.5 million a year in operating funds from the Regional Municipality of Waterloo.
Alex Leask, who lived in 43 David St. for five years, said water was leaking into many units and little was done about it.
“For the longest time they just kept putting it off, they were ignoring it, nobody was even coming by to look at it,” Leask said.
“Finally, when they started doing a little bit of work on it, it was just a quick fix,” Leask said. “It would last maybe a month or two, but any time it rained, it all started again.”
August 26, 2009 | Liz Monteiro, Record Staff | http://news.therecord.com/article/590507
WATERLOO – Waterloo councillors unanimously voted to defer about $350,000 in development charges for a Kitchener home builder who is building an affordable housing apartment building for seniors on Erb Street West.
Newo Holdings Ltd. plans to build 49 affordable housing units at 346 Erb St. W. The building will consist of 44 one-bedroom apartments and five two-bedroom units.
The units are meant to accommodate seniors who are on a low income and reduced rents will be offered. The building will feature wider hallways, covered parking, walk-in showers and video security.
City of Waterloo development charges total $353,515. The Region of Waterloo also deferred development charges.
In June, the builder received a $5.4-million grant from the federal and provincial governments to build affordable housing for seniors.
The builder will be required to pay the charges 180 days after a building permit is issued, said Erin Gray, who works in the city’s finance department.
Coun. Jan d’Ailly said deferring charges is an appropriate way for a city to show its support for affordable housing projects.
The city has deferred development charges in the past. Most recently, the city deferred $210,030 in development charges to allow Supportive Housing of Waterloo to go ahead with its 30-unit project for the homeless on Erb Street West.
Lack of maintenance blamed for public housing problems
August 29, 2009 | Terry Pender, Record Staff | http://news.therecord.com/article/590931
KITCHENER — The head of the company that built the community housing on David Street is offering his firm’s expertise to identify the problems and solutions for units long plagued with leaks, mould and rotting beams.
Kitchener Housing Inc. which owns the three small apartment buildings at 31, 35 and 39 David St., is moving 11 families out of the buildings fearing possible exposure to mould, leaks and weak structural beams. Last month, four other families were moved out of 43 David St. for the same reason.
The apartments were built in 1992-1993 by Waterloo-based Melloul-Blamey Construction. The same company is now building the municipal parking garage at the corner of Charles and Benton streets. The company has done other work for the city since it was founded in 1982.
Bernie Malloul, co-founder of the firm, said he is surprised by the turn of events on David Street.
“We would be happy to go there and determine once and for all what’s wrong and offer solutions,” Malloul said.
“We are happy to do that,” Malloul said. “We do that for clients all over the place.”
In July, workers started doing some maintenance on the balconies at 43 David St., when they discovered that water damage had caused some beams to rot and spread mould.
“We have never, ever, had any call back in that building that I am aware of,” Melloul said.
Residential construction projects, like the David Street four-plexes, typically have a one-year warranty. About a year after construction finished, the builders, the housing authority and the architect toured the property and found no problems.
During construction, the work was checked more than 40 times by a City of Kitchener building inspector, according to city building records.
The four buildings on David Street are part of a $14.5 million development that turned the old Victoria School into community housing. A nine-storey building was erected behind the school and the four-plexes were built along David Street.
Melloul said there was nothing in the design or construction of the building to indicate there would be future problems.
“Buildings have to be maintained, that’s all there is to it,” Melloul said.
The veteran construction executive is sympathetic to the budgetary challenges faced by the non-profit housing sector.
“I believe that is a monumental task for all non-profit housing people, to get cash from the government to maintain these facilities,” Melloul said.
The architect who designed the housing is Trevor Garwood-Jones of Hamilton, said he is also surprised to learn that people are being moved out of the buildings 16 years after construction finished.
“I have never had that problem before and we’ve got over 400-odd housing units that we have completed,” Garwood-Jones said.
“If you don’t maintain a building you will get leaks,” Garwood-Jones said. “If you get water penetration into a building, that is going to lead to mould.”
Current and former tenants of the David Street apartments say the buildings leaked when it rained and repairs were long in coming, if at all. Kay Wilson, who moved into 35 David St. when the building opened, said the leaks started two or three years later and have not stopped.
“The important thing is, once they knew there was a leak, what did they do about it? To me that’s key, you’ve got to start jumping around when you’ve got a problem,” Garwood-Jones said.
Kitchener Housing Inc. is the City of Kitchener’s non-profit housing corporation. It has 563 rental units among 18 sites and receives about $4.5 million in operating funds a year from the Regional Municipality of Waterloo.
Karen Kwiatkowski, general manager of Kitchener Housing, defended the organization’s maintenance record earlier this week, saying the agency always responded to complaints. But, she said, balancing maintenance costs with Kitchener Housing’s budget was always a challenge.
The housing agency has hired environmental consultants to assess the extent of the damage and whether the buildings can be saved.
Mark Yantzi, a former city councillor who sat on the board of Kitchener Housing, when the David Street properties were designed and built, said there was never enough funds allocated to maintenance.
“I know that was always a challenge, even back then,” Yantzi said.
“There was always more money for capital to get things built than to maintain them or to build up reserves,” Yantzi said.
Yantzi is supported by Tony Kerr, a Kitchener resident who lived in community housing for nearly a decade. Kerr said he experienced maintenance issues when he lived in units on Linden Terrace and Maurice Street.
“And those buildings, both those sites, have had problems for 20 years,” Kerr said.
Kerr said those properties had leaks during rainstorms, windows freezing in the winter and poor insulation.
“You could call and you know, put a complaint in,” Kerr said. “Sometimes somebody would come and look at it and tell you they couldn’t do anything, nothing could be done about it, they didn’t have the funds for it.”
Kerr added: “There would be varying excuses for not getting it dealt with. Money seemed to be the main one.”
Kitchener Housing Inc. is among about 50 providers of non-profit housing in Waterloo Region. Those providers have identified $43 million in outstanding repairs, but the region has only $18.5 million from upper levels of government earmarked for that work.
Oversight lacking in operation of housing agency, councillor says
September 1, 2009 | Terry Pender, Record Staff | http://news.therecord.com/article/591449
Kitchener Housing wants to demolish mouldy buildings, start overKITCHENER — The board of directors of Kitchener Housing Inc. has failed to provide the oversight needed to avoid problems unfolding at a public housing complex on David Street, says a board member and Kitchener city councillor.
“It’s a real example of where the board’s at fault because we are not asking enough questions,” Coun. John Gazzola said in an interview Monday.
Gazzola is one of three city councillors who sit on the board of directors for Kitchener Housing Inc., one of the largest providers of non-profit housing in Waterloo Region.
Kitchener Housing is moving 11 families out of the small apartment buildings at 31, 35 and 39 David St., fearing the tenants could be at risk from mould and beams weakened from years of water leaks. Another four families were moved out of 43 David St. in July for the same reasons.
The units were part of a $14.5 million project completed in 1992 and included the conversion of the old Victoria Park School into public housing and the construction of a nine-storey building behind the school as well as the four-plexes along David Street.
At a board meeting last week, the situation was barely discussed, Gazzola said.
“We haven’t gone into it enough as a board, and that’s our mistake. We need to look at this thing more closely and we need to ask more questions and make sure these things don’t happen,” Gazzola said.
“It’s been going on for quite a while, but the board has not done as good a job as we should have. We are in quite a situation here and we have probably not asked enough questions.”
Current and former tenants of the David Street buildings are critical of the housing authority for not doing a better job of maintaining the buildings. Kay Wilson moved into 35 David St. shortly after it opened. She said the water leaks started two or three years later and the repairs were ineffective.
Denny Cybalski, a real estate agent who chairs the board of directors, said the board has done its job and has never had problems or issues, except with the units on David Street.
Cybalski said Kitchener Housing Inc. has done a good job of maintaining its properties and the units on David Street are the only ones to present problems.
“There has actually been quite a bit of maintenance done on the property,” Cybalski said. “When you are dealing with water, it is tough to deal with at best, but I know there has been a lot of caulking, there’s been a lot (heating and ventilation) work, a lot of items identified by consultants in the past.”
Cybalski said the board wants to speak with the company that constructed the buildings to pursue an offer of help. The co-founder of Melloul-Blamey Construction, Bernie Malloul, said his firm is willing to examine the buildings to determine the problems and recommend solutions.
“We will be talking with him, definitely,” Cybalski said of that offer.
Mayor Carl Zehr and Coun. Christine Weylie are also on the board of directors for Kitchener Housing Inc.
“I don’t have any concerns with the way it has been handled,” Zehr said.
“I think we were doing the full disclosure and transparency to the public and putting the residents’ interests first, and acting quickly when we had the information.”
“I think staff has done a great job,” Zehr added.
How a building constructed 17 years ago is now unfit for people to live in is an excellent question to ask, Zehr said.
“I don’t know that we have all the answers for it at this point in time.”
Meanwhile, consultants are assessing the extent of the water damage and mould in the buildings. Once it has that information, the board of directors will decide what to do with the four buildings containing a total of 16 apartments.
“One of the main dilemmas is we have a building that is empty there right now and it’s partially open to the environment and in another three months we are going to have fall-winter weather,” said Mike Seiling, a member of the housing authority’s board of directors.
Seiling, who is also the director of building for the City of Kitchener, was brought on to the housing agency’s board because of his background in construction.
“It is going to come down to costs,” Seiling said of the buildings’ future.
Water is leaking into the buildings from some balconies and into the walls.
“Let’s look at repairing it, depending on what the costs are going to be, if the costs come in at a reasonable amount,” Seiling said.
November 3, 2009 | Terry Pender, Record Staff | http://news.therecord.com/article/623840
KITCHENER — Following months of study, the board of directors of Kitchener Housing Inc. voted Tuesday to tear down four David Street apartment buildings and construct a single three-storey in its place.
The move depends on getting the funds from upper levels of government.
It was a unanimous decision, made easy by the numbers.
It would cost about $2.46 million to redesign and restore the four buildings, which contain four units each. The cost to demolish and construct a new building with 16 units is $2.48 million. If two more units are added to the new building the cost is $2.6 million.
The board for the non-profit housing provider was told the buildings, which were erected in 1993 by Melloul-Blamey Construction, had design flaws that allowed water to get into the walls. Mould took root and spread.
“It was architecturally driven for a look that is not really conducive to this market or this climate,” Denny Cyblaski, the chair of the board of Kitchener Housing Inc., said in an interview after Tuesday’s meeting.
Trevor Garwood-Jones of Hamilton was the architect who designed the buildings. In an earlier interview with the Waterloo Region Record, Garwood-Jones said he never had a problem with the more than 400 housing units he’s designed.
“If you don’t maintain a building you get leaks,” Garwood-Jones said. “If you get water penetration into a building, that is going to lead to mould.”
Cybalski said a single, new building will reduce ongoing maintenance costs, create six units on the ground floor that are wheelchair accessible, double the common area space and feature an attractive brownstone-like façade.
Kitchener Housing will prepare a business case for the new housing, which must be submitted to the Region of Waterloo. The region oversees non-profit housing in this area and provides Kitchener Housing with about $4.5 million in annual funding.
Regional housing officials will take that business case to the province and hopefully secure the funds by mid-January.
“We have already been working with the region on that,” Cybalski said. “The province is fully aware it is coming in and they essentially know what it will contain.”
If the province does not provide the funds to demolish and rebuild then Kitchener Housing must decide what it will do with the four leaking and mould infested buildings.
“If we don’t get the grant from the province we have a $2 million problem?” Coun. John Gazzola, a member of the board of Kitchener Housing, asked.
“Yes,” Cybalski said.
But Mayor Carl Zehr, who also sits on the board, pointed out the housing agency needs the region and province to help no matter what it decides to do.
“Either way it is a funding issue — we don’t have the funds to do either,” Zehr said.
Zehr made the motion to demolish and rebuild, pending the approval of funds from the province.
“It’s a business decision, that’s what it is, and an easy one when you make the (cost) comparison,” Zehr said.
The idea of redesigning and restoring the existing buildings did not sit well with Zehr for another reason as well.
“Unless you go back to every bare wall and every two-by-four, you can’t be sure you have the problem solved,” he said.
“Personally, myself, that is not something I would be comfortable with,” Cybalski said.
In July, Kitchener Housing Inc. announced it was moving three families out of the building at 43 David St. after a lot of mould was found in that building. Also, a structural beam was water soaked and rotten.
In late August, the housing agency announced another 11 families would be moved out of the buildings at 31, 35 and 39 David St.
“What we are faced with today we did not become aware of until July of this year,” Cybalski told the board.
Kitchener Housing Inc. is the region’s second largest provider of non-profit housing, with more than 500 units among 18 different sites around the city.
The troubled units on David Street were part of a $14 million project that saw housing units constructed in and around the former Victoria School that fronts onto Joseph Street.
City of Kitchener city staff will be recommending demolition of the 4 units at the Feb 2 meeting of Heritage Kitchener. In the place of the 4 units (housing 16 total units) will be one 18 unit building. I'm assuming that'll be the brownstone type building. They're also saying with the potential for another 18 unit building in the future. No idea where that'd go.
All the details are here: http://www.kitchener.ca/Files/Item/i...oseph_st__.pdf
Last edited by Spokes; 01-24-2010 at 09:50 AM.
Some notes from today's Heritage Kitchener Committee Meeting:
-They approved the demolition permit for the 4 buildings
-When demolished they will be rebuilt "some time in the future" (this time frame worries me a little bit)
-The impression I got, and this was a little confusing, was that an 18 unit structure would be built where two of the buildings exist. And then in the future an 18 or 20 unit structure will be built where the other two buildings are. These will all be one-bedroom units. So I cant figure it out, these buildings will have to be 6+ storeys right?
-They will be designed with architectural features that will blend in with the design of the heritage district it's in
Basically what spokes said from Tuesday nights meeting
Out with the mould, in with the new for Kitchener Housing
February 4, 2010 | Terry Pender, Record Staff |
KITCHENER — The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will give $2.4 million to Kitchener Housing Inc. for a new apartment building to replace 16 mould-infested units on David Street.
Denny Cybalski, the chair of Kitchener Housing’s board, said demolition of the four small apartment buildings at 31, 35, 39 and 43 David St. is scheduled to begin at the end of March.
Cybalski said the provincial funds, which he described as an “unencumbered grant,” will cover all of the construction costs.
A single apartment building with 18 units, including some that are wheelchair accessible, will be constructed on the same spot. The new building will take up less space than the four buildings currently on the site.
The extra space could accommodate another apartment building in the future when funds become available, Cybalski said.
The demolition and construction was made necessary because water leaked into the walls of the existing units, saturating some structural beams and causing mould to grow.
The tenants at 43 David St. were relocated to other units owned by Kitchener Housing Inc. last summer when the leaks and mould were discovered.
A couple of months later the people living in the other three buildings were also relocated.
The buildings that will be torn down were built in 1992-1993.
Kitchener Housing Inc. blamed the leaks and subsequent mould on the design of the buildings. Some of the residents who lived in the units blamed the problems on a lack of maintenance.
Kitchener Housing Inc. is the City of Kitchener’s municipal non-profit housing corporation. Three members of city council sit on the housing agency’s board — Mayor Carl Zehr, Coun. John Gazzola and Coun.Christine Weylie.
The agency receives about $4.5 million annually for operating and income subsidies from Waterloo Region, which funds all not-for-profit housing providers in the area. It own and operates 563 units spread around 19 sites.
Glad the funding came through!
So they got 2.4 mil, and need 2.6 mil to do the 18 unit building. It'll be interesting to see details about it, height, design, etc.
I wonder if they still want to go after a brownstone like facade. I'm not sure how they could though.
Here's the HIA for this project - http://www.kitchener.ca/Files/Item/i...street_hia.pdf
It's got the drawings and site plan for the new 3 storey building (although it sure does look like it's 4 floors) I'll try to post the pictures from the pdf later tonight.
What does everyone think?
Page 11: "It is a 4 storey structure on the street side and 3 storeys at the rear, like the buildings it replaces."
The media part is a good point, but they list it as a 3 storey on the site plan. Maybe they have to say that since it's not 4 on all sides?
A pity they built these so poorly...I've always loved the architecture here. Didn't realize they were public housing though.
I really hoped they went with the brownstone type facade that they had talked about.
None the less, I kind of like what they have planned. I do think that by waiting for the second structure, the empty space will look like garbage. There's a concrete retaining wall at the back of that spot that will become visible. It's a shame there wasn't the money to do both right away.
Demolition is under way
Beat me to it! Thanks Leaffan!
March 30, 2010
View From The Park
Courtyard of the Historic School
Thanks for all the pictures!
Im anxious to see how those concrete walls at the rear are incorporated into the green space haha.
I was thinking the same thing. They currently look like concrete boxes filled with dirt. Maybe they'll remove them and try to level out the property more, or maybe just build a retaining wall and keep the steep step down. It will be interesting.Im anxious to see how those concrete walls at the rear are incorporated into the green space haha.
They'll have to have a retaining wall of some sort. It'd be too steep of an incline to level it out. I wonder if they'll replace it when they build the new building or try to use the existing wall.
Today's record has an article on the replacement building complete with a mock-up as seen in the HIA. The brick row/town houses will fit in well with the architecture of the area. Too bad they couldn't replace them all at once.
Just thought I'd post the full text of the article.
I like the design, but I too would have preferred to see both done at once. These are all one bedroom units which they say is what the market needs most.Historically sensitive building to replace mouldy housing
April 3, 2010 | Melinda Dalton, Record Staff | http://news.therecord.com/article/692923
KITCHENER — A new, but historically sensitive, four-storey apartment building will soon fill the spot where Kitchener Housing’s mould-plagued David Street complex once stood.
The new building will house 18 one-bedroom units on half the footprint of the former fourplex. For now, the other half of the 31-43 David St. stretch will remain green space, but Kitchener Housing intends to build a 20-unit second phase on the space when funds are available.
“This is better suited for the market,” Kitchener housing chair Denny Cybalski said of the new building. “It can accommodate elderly people. It’s a better design and it’s lower maintenance.”
The building will feature a mansard roof, red brick and a stone base, designed to be a better match with the neighbouring Victoria Park school building. The old buildings, which are now being demolished, were boxy and overtly contemporary. [Spokes: I couldn't agree more!] The new one is an intentionally modern design laced with a notable nod to the past.
“We wanted to really have this building not draw attention to itself because it’s the school building that is the really attractive piece from a heritage standpoint,” said Patrick Simmons of Robertson Simmons Architects Inc., the firm behind the new building.
“We wanted a building that receded somewhat and a building that would be in keeping with, but not in competition with, the school building.”
The previous Kitchener Housing buildings on David Street did not have heritage designation, but the land is in the Victoria Park Heritage Conservation District. That meant the design of the new building had to meet certain city standards including a “comfortable” streetscape, high-quality materials and windows that complement historic examples in the area.
Built in 1992 and 1993, the former David Street housing units suffered from leaks and mould, which caused structural damage. They were deemed uninhabitable last year and the tenants were moved out.
The Kitchener Housing board blamed the design of the building. Residents said it was poorly maintained. In the fall, Kitchener Housing decided to tear the buildings down and start again because it would be cheaper than rehabilitating the existing building.
Cybalski declined to comment when asked if the board was taking any action against the designer or builder of the leaky buildings.
“It’s ongoing,” he said.
The province will cover the $2.4 million cost of the project through a grant from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Kitchener Housing is still working on the units’ interior design. The building was designed with maintenance in mind, Cybalski said, and will include modernized heating systems and a roof system that will more effectively handle stormwater.
From the street, pedestrians will see several doors on the main floor, but none of them will be functional. They were added to accommodate the city’s requirements for an “animated” streetscape, said Simmons.
Kitchener Housing will be applying for a minor variance to a city bylaw that requires all ground-floor units have an outdoor amenity space, he said.
The main entrance will be on the side of the building. A metre-high wrought-iron fence and landscaping will act as a buffer between the sidewalk and the ground-floor units.
Simmons said he expects building permits to be issued in the next few weeks. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
Non functioning doors along David though? That seems kind of dumb. Give the ground floor units their own street level entrance in addition to what I would assume would be a common entrance elsewhere.
I'm not a fan of the fence (!) along David Street, and the main entrance being on the side.