More seniors will be closer to friends, family and support networks in St. Marys thanks to an affordable housing funding announcement last week.More than $1.4 million was announced by the federal and provincial government to help build 12 rental units in a new, 30-unit building on Stoneridge Boulevard that broke ground earlier this week.The building will offer 29 two-bedroom units and one three-bedroom unit, says Larry Otten, who with brother Chris, are the developers behind Favoured Lands Inc., which is heading up the project. The funding is part of the joint provincial-federal economic action plan program, and both MP Gary Schellenberger and MPP John Wilkinson were on hand at Friday's announcement. Schellenberger noted that the 12 units will be "close to family, friends and support networks… in the comfort and safety of familiar surroundings" when completed. For his part, Wilkinson said that one of the other benefits of the project is that "the decisions are bottom-up; there may be top down money, but the projects are coming locally." This particular development has had much local input, too. Town council approved an initial site plan with 40 units spread over four, two-storey townhouses, last fall. An informal open house was held for residents in the area after the site plan's approval, and this input was used when the Ottens had to redesign the plan since the funding application wouldn't allow for as many units. The revisions included scaling back to one, 30-unit apartment-style building, a single entry off Stoneridge Boulevard, a covered space with one common entry, and setting the building further in on the lot, away from established neighbours. A second open house was held after council approved the revisions were approved in late June, with more interest from prospective tenants than from neighbours.The 12 apartments will be the first true affordable housing units in St. Marys, says Bill Tiggert, director of social services for the City of Stratford, which oversees affordable housing for St. Marys. While rents at co-ops such as Little Falls and Stonetown are based on a "geared-to-income" format where tenants pay 30 per cent of their gross household income, affordable housing rents are 80 per cent of market prices.Market rent for a two-bedroom unit is $850 per month plus utilities; the affordable rate will be $589 plus utilities, with the three-bedroom unit costing $900 per month plus utilities.Larry Otten estimates that "it will be at least March" before residents will be able to move in. The brothers are handling the application process themselves, and will let the public know when they can begin applying for both the affordable and the regular-price units.