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July 18, 2018

Partners share vision for affordable homes

A new affordable housing development is making waves in Belleville, Ontario, and the people behind it aren’t afraid to share their secret.

Bob Cottrell is president of All-Together Affordable Housing, a non-profit agency with a mission to find homes for vulnerable people. Phil Spry is the owner of Springale Development, a company focused on building affordable housing. Bob and Phil’s different business models and similar goals have generated a unique partnership for their first major project together.

“We share a lot of the same values and share the same vision for affordable housing in our community,” Bob explains from All-Together Housing’s Victorian red brick headquarters.

“There are a lot of vulnerable people who, through no fault of their own, are in a position where they need help finding suitable housing,” says Phil. “A lot of [market-based] landlords don’t look at the whole picture,” he continues. “I find it very satisfying to help provide a solution for these people.”

Bob and Phil’s ambitious new venture is the Great Saint James Street project: a 32-unit development in the heart of Belleville. The units will incorporate universal design, ensuring accessibility for residents with mobility challenges.

A retired teacher, Bob considers projects like this a natural extension of his work in the classroom.

“Much like the teaching career, you deal with quite a variety of individuals,” he says. “It is also very rewarding to help our most vulnerable citizens.”

The partners are working with 5 community agencies, including the Canadian Mental Health Association, to help house individuals in need of additional support and services.

“When Phil and Bob started talking about this project, we knew we wanted to be involved,” says Scott Henderson, a housing preservation counsellor with Canadian Mental Health Association. “What they have come up with is dynamic and a great fit for us.”

Phil and Bob have a long road ahead, but they find strength in working together.

“As a small agency, this partnership with Phil gave us confidence that we can move forward,” says Bob. “He’s got the expertise, he’s got the background, and he’s got a couple of buildings already he’s working on.”

“It’s been a great working relationship,” Phil agrees. “I think this is something you can take to other communities and other places. It’s about learning what can be done. This doesn’t just have to be Bob and Phil. This can be any 2 organizations, non-profits or for-profits, working with agencies and vulnerable people, and getting together and doing it. This can be huge.”

This project received funding from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Government of Ontario through the Canada–Ontario Investment in Affordable Housing Agreement. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation also provided Seed Funding for the project.

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