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Discerning NL Housing’s strategy for vacant units has been a struggle, Marystown mayor says

The Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation has 40 vacant units in Marystown. PAUL HERRIDGE/THE SOUTHERN GAZETTE
The Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation has 40 vacant units in Marystown. PAUL HERRIDGE/THE SOUTHERN GAZETTE
MARYSTOWN, N.L. —

Numerous apartment units belonging to the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation (NLHC) in Marystown have sat dormant for years.

Marystown town council has been trying to find out the corporation’s long-term local plan for almost as long, mayor Sam Synard said.

“This conversation now goes back with many different ministers over the course of a decade probably,” the mayor told SaltWire Network.

Currently, the NLHC falls under the purview of Children, Seniors and Social Development Minister Lisa Dempster.

Synard says there is definitely a need for low-income and subsidized housing in Marystown, especially for older residents. It's evidenced by the fact when new cottages for seniors are built they are rented immediately.

The vacant NLHC units, constructed in the 1960s when Newfoundland families were much larger, have issues, according to the mayor.

In addition to requiring a lot of work, their design isn’t desirable anymore.

“You got some of these units, they’re three stories with three flights of stairs and they might not be the most suitable for probably elderly people who have some physical challenges,” Synard said.

He thinks some of the apartments could potentially be renovated to better meet people’s needs.

“The bottom line is, we want to know what is the province’s long-term plans for those housing units,” he said.

Synard said the town has requested a meeting with the provincial government, but said he expects a response could take a while, given the situation in St. John’s following the recent blizzard.

“We’ve got another letter gone to Minister Dempster, so we’ll see what the reply is and we’ll go from there."

NLHC on vacancies

The Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation has 150 total units in Marystown.

Of those, 40 units are currently vacant, the NLHC said in a statement to SaltWire Network.

“Nineteen of these vacant units are being prepared for occupancy to assist all the applicants currently on the rental wait list,” the statement reads.

“NLHC has carried vacancies in Marystown for a number of years due to low demand and the demographic need not matching the available units. A review of vacancies has been conducted province wide to inform next steps on NLHC's portfolio.”

The statement also noted Minister Lisa Dempster and the NLHC executive have met with Synard to discuss its units and area operations, and a follow-up meeting is in the works.

“NLHC is repairing units as demand dictates and is open to ideas for optimizing vacancies,” the statement adds.


NLHC’s Marystown property

According to the Municipal Assessment Agency’s annual assessment roll for 2020, the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation owns 11 buildings on Atlantic Crescent in Marystown.
They have a combined assessed value of $3,801,000.
The NLHC owns 17 more buildings on Smallwood Crescent with a combined assessed value of $5,969,900.

paul.herridge@southerngazette.ca

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