At the M.D of Taber’s Committee of the Whole Meeting on June 13, Tim Janzen, Chief Administrative Officer of the Taber and District Housing Foundation presented information about the Clearview Lodge expansion and modernization project. 

“I presented the latest costing information and talked about the business case of a sustainable project,” Janzen said. “I also enquired if they would be interested in making an investment in the project.” 

The M.D. Council, Janzen says, were very welcoming and asked questions about the project. They, Janzen says, have always been supportive of the Foundation’s operations, but they also receive many requests for funding and support. 

“I presume that the Council members and Administration took the information I presented and then spoke about it amongst themselves,” Janzen said. “It is likely that the Province of Alberta will have an application process for the Affordable Partnership program some time yet in 2023. TDHF would like to be ready to apply in an effort to be successful in securing grant funding from the Province. TDHF is talking to all of our municipal partners – M.D. of Taber, Town of Taber, Town of Vauxhall, and Village of Barnwell.” 

Janzen says that TDHF provides Social and Affordable Housing in Taber and area. The Foundation, Janzen says, has family housing units, which are generally duplexes or townhouses for single parent families with children, in Barnwell, Vauxhall and Taber. They, Janzen says, also provide senior self-contained apartments in those same communities. The Foundation also owns and manages the Clearview Lodge in Taber. Clearview Lodge has 57 units of SL2 and 20 units of SL3 (additional supports) for 77 resident units. Janzen says that TDHF manages these units on behalf of the owner, Alberta Social Housing Corporation.

“Residents of the MD of Taber are eligible to apply for housing in any one of these facilities,” Janzen said. “We have many residents at Clearview Lodge that farmed or worked in the M.D. of Taber and as they age, they have looked for living at a facility that can provide them some additional services including housekeeping, dining, activity and personal care services while remaining in the community. They don’t have to move out of the community to have their needs met.” 

Unfortunately, Janzen said, the organization currently has two major issues, one of them being the current size of Clearview Lodge. 

“Clearview Lodge is a great facility,” Janzen said. “The operations are recognized every year by the Health Quality Council of Alberta surveys as among the best facilities in southern Alberta and the Province. Our staff have done an incredible job keeping residents safe throughout COVID while also honouring their independence. The sad reality is that most of the facility was built in the 1960s, before many of our staff were born. As a result, the building was built for a different time.” 

Many of the rooms within the facility, Janzen says, are less than 200 square feet in size and only have a half bath. As a result, Janzen says, those residents need to go down the hallway to a shared shower and bathing room. If there is a complaint about the facility, it is that the rooms are too small, and people want to be able to shower or bathe in their own rooms. 

“In 2020, during the pandemic, our board, administration and Lodge management contracted an architect to review what we liked in our current facility and what we wanted to achieve with new construction,” Janzen said. “Over 18 months, we developed the expansion and modernization project. Essentially, we hoped to bring all room sizes over 300 square feet, with a standardized size for bachelor suites at 350 square feet and one-bedroom units at 450 square feet. The smallest room in the new project would be the size of our current biggest room. We also wanted to keep our current atrium, exterior courtyard and the dining room and kitchen (renovated in 2014). We determined that Taber did not necessarily need many more SL2 and SL3 units so we only expanded the number of units by five to 82 units overall. However, because the one-bedroom units were so much bigger, it is entirely possible that we could have couples in a single future unit, whereas they currently take two rooms. So we believe that we could have as many as 20 additional residents in the new facility. Our goal is to have a facility that will meet the needs of the residents of Taber for the next fifty years.” 

The other issue currently facing TDHF, Janzen says, is the lack of one bedroom units for single individuals between the age of 18 and 55. 

“If we have a single individual fleeing an abusive situation and they would like to live in Taber after being at Safe Haven (Women’s Shelter), we don’t have a place to offer them,” Janzen said. “Lone individuals that may need stable housing due to illness, accident, or underemployment would not be able to find a spot with us.” 

Janzen says that a needs assessment completed in 2019 showed that between 35 to 120 individuals in Taber were in “housing need” which means that they paid more than 30 percent of their income on housing, were living in units of inappropriate size, meaning they were living in overcrowded conditions; or living in inappropriate conditions. 

“We encounter people on a weekly basis that are looking for housing and they either can’t find a unit at all or they cannot afford any of the market rentals available,” Janzen said. “Both of these issues require funding from the Province, the federal government and significant collaboration with our municipal partners. We would like to find a workable solution sooner than later. But that will require more meetings and discussion with all partners at the table. Taber and District Housing Foundation looks forward to being part of that process and find options to provide more housing options for our community.”

By Heather Cameron, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 28, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   The Taber Times   Taber, Alberta

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