There’s a brand new housing community being built in Chatham-Kent, and you can help the project win a grant to go towards its development from the prestigious David Suzuki Foundation.

The Brickworks Community of 30 homes plus common areas will be run by the Opportunity Villages Community Land Trust (OVCLT), a not-for-profit group put together specifically to oversee this and future projects, and marks an exciting new chapter in affordable housing options for CK. Not only will the community be available at below market value costs to qualifying buyers, but the homes are being built with the environment as well as the economy, in mind.

Site plan for The Brickworks

Rose Linseman is the Volunteer Project Manager for The Brickworks, and she says the goal from the very start was always “how to create something affordable in perpetuity.”

With housing prices rising steadily across Ontario, the purpose of creating the homes with a community land trust is to ensure that the homes remain affordable to the first owners—and future owners as well. That means, Rose explains, that homes can’t just be purchased at a lower rate and flipped or rented out. If an owner wants to sell, it will again be at a determined below-market rate to continue the opportunity for affordable home ownership in The Brickworks.

“There’s a huge need for a project like this. First of all, there’s a housing shortage across the board … housing (and rental) pricing has doubled and beyond, so we see an even bigger gap between renting and owning a home start to grow.” The Brickworks Project aims to close that gap, allowing more people to achieve their dream of owning a home.

The community is being developed at 10 Taylor Avenue on the east side of Chatham, Ontario.

For Rose, who runs RAD Studio + Eco Store in downtown Chatham, that meant looking at the most sustainable materials and systems available today in home building and maintenance.

“We would like to create net-zero and net-zero ready properties, which is not a common thing that has been done,” says Rose. What that means is that the house produces as much energy as it uses, balancing itself out and keeping utility costs and property management costs low. Net-zero ready means that the houses will be future-proofed for even more environmentally efficient upgrades as they become more widely available.

And now this innovative project has been recognized as a top-ten finalist for the Future Ground Prize from the David Suzuki Foundation, which brings with it a $5,000 grand prize or $2,500 people’s choice award—as well as a chance for the OVCLT to speak with Suzuki about the project.

Rose stresses that no matter the outcome, this marks a great contribution from Chatham-Kent as the only project in southwestern Ontario to be considered out of 135 entries.

Although COVID-19 has added some unpredictable slowdowns in the building process and increased the costs of materials, with the help of community partners, funding from the municipality and enthusiasm across the region, construction could begin as soon as this fall.

Voting runs until June 15 so please show your support for this amazing community initiative today!

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