Feds fund affordable housing units

Will serve women, Indigenous and LGBTQ+ people

The West Broadway Commons is a newly constructed building at the corner of Broadway Avenue and Colony Street that includes affordable living options for students. (Photo by Daniel Crump)

On Jan. 11, the federal government announced an investment of upwards of $12.7 million to create affordable housing units in Winnipeg. This falls under their Rapid Housing Initiative and will create approximately 59 units.

These units will be spread across three housing projects, each targeting a specific demographic. The first project, located on Victor Street, will be operated by the West Central Women’s Resource Centre (WCWRC), according to a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation press release.

“This generous investment from Canada’s Rapid Housing Initiative, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the City of Winnipeg allows us to open a new, affordable and safe transitional-housing building for women and their children who have experienced gender-based violence,” Carey Richards, director of housing for the WCWRC, says in an email to The Uniter.

“With this grant, we have purchased a three-storey apartment building ... and are converting it to include a mix of 17 affordable three-bedroom, two-bedroom and one-bedroom units,” they say.

“This new transitional housing will offer safe, supportive and culturally appropriate transitional apartments where 35 women and children can live for up to two years, giving them the time they need to stabilize and secure long-term housing with the support of our housing team,” Richards says.

“We believe that housing is a human right and that everybody is deserving of a safe place to call home.”

The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) will operate another of the projects receiving funds, located at 670 Main St. Will Goodon, the MMF’s minister of housing and property management, welcomes the announcement.

“We are very excited to be able to access the Rapid Housing Initiative funding to invest in support for Métis citizens experiencing or in danger of homelessness,” he says in an email to The Uniter. This project will provide 22 housing units for Indigenous people.

“We have known for a long time that a lot of our citizens are falling through the cracks,” Goodon says. “This investment will provide immediate safety for those most in need, and this facility cannot come fast enough. It is my belief that we will literally be saving lives, and there is no greater goal than that.”

Homelessness and affordable housing have been hot topics in Winnipeg municipal politics in recent years. Interestingly, Mayor Brian Bowman said in his 2021 year-end interview that he regrets not doing more on these files during his mandate. He remains in office for another 10 months.

Desiree McIvor, spokesperson for Make Poverty History Manitoba, says this affordable housing announcement comes at a time when life is increasingly unaffordable for so many. She notes, however, that the word “affordable” can be problematic when used in funding announcements for things like housing units.

“The language is very exclusive and it’s like ‘affordable’ to whom?” McIvor says. The final project will be located on Broadway Avenue and will aim to provide housing units for LGBTQ+ people.

Published in Volume 76, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 27, 2022)

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