Dozens of Winnipeggers will no longer be called homeless if Siloam Mission is able to get funding to follow its ambitious plan to expand its downtown facilities.
Floyd Perras, Siloam's executive director, unveiled the $30.5-million expansion plan, which would see a building demolished and a new four-storey one go up in its place next to its 300 Princess St. location, while a new nine-storey building is erected behind it on Stanley Avenue.
'It's so infrequently we see housing built for this segment of society. For the people we work with, to have a new permanent home is pretty exciting' -- Floyd Perras, Siloam's executive director
"It's very exciting," Perras said on Friday shortly after unveiling the plan at a meeting of the city's finance committee.
"It's so infrequently we see housing built for this segment of society. For the people we work with, to have a new, permanent home is pretty exciting.
"It would be great to think we could be started on this during this calendar year."
Perras said $8.5 million would be needed to build the four-storey building, which would house expanded frontline services, while $22 million would be needed to build the taller building, which would house 160 people who need supportive housing. He said Siloam has already assembled the land.
Perras said the building with housing units would follow its successful model in the Wolseley area where 85 people live in the former Madison apartment building. Siloam says the Madison gives the residents, many of whom face barriers to employment because they have mental-health issues or physical and cognitive disabilities, "a dignified place" to live.
Perras was asking city councillors if the city could provide $4 million of the funding for the front-line services building.
Siloam is asking the other two levels of government for help funding the construction of the housing building.
Coun. Russ Wyatt, finance committee chairman, said the committee has asked the administration to look at ways the city can help.
"There could be other ways we can help them," Wyatt (Transcona) said.
"Right now we tax them. They are not tax-exempt even though they offer services like a church, which we don't tax. We might be able to help them there."