People with disabilities face unique challenges when it comes to housing. On the one hand, they have to find a home that’s accessible and affordable. On the other, they often need a network of support services in order to maintain their independence, privacy and dignity.
Developers like southwestern Ontario’s Nasr Nasr and his company, Nasr Limited, are helping people with disabilities overcome these challenges.
“Growing up, my family was always involved in trying to find ways to give back to the community,” he explains. When he was 24, Nasr read an article about the urgent need for more affordable housing in Canada. “I realized you could do both — build a successful business as a property developer, and still do good for other people…”
The Blue Haven Apartments
The Blue Haven Apartments in Amherstburg, Ontario, are a perfect example of the results Nasr’s passion can produce. Featuring 24 one-bedroom townhomes, the apartments are spread out over 2 buildings along a tranquil riverfront.
Nasr looked at nearly a dozen buildings before choosing the former Blue Haven Motel for this development. Whether he’s looking for a vacant lot or a building his company can convert, he’s always trying to find 3 things:
- A centrally located site close to transit, shopping, parks and other services. Not only so people can get what they need easily, but also so they feel like part of the community.
- A price that makes sense for affordable housing. This usually means a building that needs a fair bit of work.
- Opportunities for making the building even more affordable during the construction or renovation. This allows him to pass those savings on to tenants.
Accessible, affordable and supportive living
To reduce costs at Blue Haven, Nasr chose features that would last long, keep utility bills low and need little maintenance. These features included things like:
- concrete driveways and parking lots for both buildings. Concrete lasts longer than asphalt and needs a lot less long-term maintenance
- energy- and water-efficient appliances, faucets and lighting. These minimize electricity costs and the development’s environmental footprint
- in-floor heating to create a healthy and comfortable indoor space while reducing energy consumption
Meeting the needs of developers, tenants and the community
For Nasr, every project comes with its own unique challenges, and its own rewards. But the important thing is to keep finding new ways to make more affordable housing possible.
“As costs go higher, it becomes harder and harder to build housing that’s both affordable and of good quality,” he says. “But that’s what makes it more important than ever to keep trying.”