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Aldersgate planning to make more room for seniors in need

By Mark Hodgins [1]

BELLEVILLE – Aldersgate Village, [2] a housing complex for low-income seniors, is in the early stages of a plan to create more affordable housing.

The corporation wants to add two new apartment-style buildings to the one it already has on Aldersgate Drive, just off Avondale Road near Dundas Street in Belleville’s west end.

The Hastings Local Housing Corporation [3], an arm of Hastings county, provides funding for Aldersgate. At its March meeting county council heard that the projected cost for construction of the two new apartment buildings would be $28 million. Warden Rick Phillips told council there are no government funds available to help pay for it. As a result, Aldersgate is preparing a capital campaign in the hopes of raising $10 million.

Amy Eliott, the administrator of Aldersgate, said there is a need for more affordable housing in this area. “At present, we have 87 apartments and our waiting list exceeds three to four years for one bedroom and five years for a two-bedroom,” said Eliott. “So the need is there just based on our waiting list.” The new buildings would create 95 new apartments.

A big issue in Hastings County is homelessness among the older population, said Eliott.  The problem isn’t seniors living or begging on the streets, she explained; it’s older people who are are either unfit to care for themselves or are out of money. “What you find more often is people living with friends or family temporarily, maybe on their couch or in a spare room that they may have,” and it’s hard to afford some of the retirement and nursing homes out there, Eliott said.

That’s where Aldersgate comes in, and why Eliott said these additions to the number of apartments there will make a difference: “We are serving low-income seniors, those that couldn’t afford to pay the other rents that may be found around town. This rent is based on their income, so that it is affordable.”

Once it gets some go-aheads, Aldersgate will be able to go to the Local Health Integration Network [4] to see if there’s money available there for the project.

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