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City to sell final piece of affordable housing

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The City of Oshawa is looking to sell its final vestige of affordable housing, but they’re hoping to find a landlord who is willing to keep the building open and preserve the homes of nearly 20 tenants.

The building at 173 Westmount Street, a two-story structure with 20 bachelor units was originally owned by the Oshawa Housing Company, prior to the city exiting the sector of affordable housing when it became the responsibility of the Region of Durham.

Over the last five years, the city has been ridding itself of the buildings formerly used for the city’s affordable housing projects, and 173 Westmount is the last building to go.

Now, the city has released a request for expression of interest seeking a landlord who would perhaps be willing to continue to offer the location as affordable housing.

“Council gave us the direction that they wanted to be out of the affordable housing business,” states Warren Munro, the city’s director of planning services. “We’re marching down that, but we’ve kept them informed and it’s important to remember that we want as little disruption to the tenant’s lives as possible.”

With that said, Munro notes that the city would still be interested if a buyer had other plans for the site.

“We’re still interested, but then it becomes how do you manage the existing tenants and can we accommodate them elsewhere in the regional system,” he says.

Previously, the city tried to pass the building off the region, offering it over to them in 2013. However, the region declined “due to the growing financial risks and liabilities associated with the existing Region of Durham social housing portfolio,” a city report states.

Preferably, the city is looking for a buyer to keep the building as is. However, it’s estimated the site will need $375,000 in upgrades and repairs over the next three years. Most recently, the city paid $15,000 to replace the roof and gives approximately $11,000 annually to the Region of Durham for property management services at the site.

Following the RFEOI process a subsequent request for proposals will be issued where prospective buyers are able to submit more detailed proposals for their plans at the site. Munro estimates the city will receive between four and five submissions.

With the mortgage already paid off for 173 Westmount, the city report notes that any funds from the sale of the property will go into a reserve account.