Ottawa helps fund Winnipeg co-op renovations
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At a funding announcement in Winnipeg, the federal minister responsible for housing promised more help is on the way for Canadians feeling the squeeze from rising costs.
Minister of Housing, Diversity and Inclusion Ahmed Hussen was in Charleswood to announce nearly $11.5 million in federal funding that helped pay for renovations to 188 co-operative-owned homes that are more than 40 years old.
“Part of the rising cost of housing is also because of a lack of adequate supply, so we need to build more supply in this country, and we are willing to be a partner to remove the barriers to doing so,” he said Monday.
Hussen said Ottawa will continue to partner with the City of Winnipeg and non-profit organizations to construct more rapid and affordable housing, and will keep paying into the bilateral housing agreement managed by the province.
“All of that money is flowing, and is it enough? No, it’s not. I know the need is great here, this is in many ways ground zero (for) a large urban population of homeless people.”
The federal government has doubled its funding contributions since last year toward tackling homelessness in the Prairie province, Hussen said.
“We’ll keep at it, we’ll keep partnering with everyone in Manitoba who’s willing,” to build more affordable housing here.
Hussen made the announcement Monday morning at Westboine Park Housing Co-operative, along with Winnipeg South Centre MP Jim Carr and Brent Turman of Assiniboine Credit Union. The credit union contributed $8 million to the renos.
The housing co-op on Shelmerdine Drive has 188 homes, most built in 1978, that cost about 15 to 20 per cent less than market value. About 450 residents are part of the co-op, ranging in age from six months to 87 years old. The funding resulted in new roofs, siding, insulation, windows and doors, with energy efficient upgrades.
The repairs were desperately needed, said Coral Hetherington, president of the co-op’s board.
“Without the funding from Assiniboine Credit Union and CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.), I can honestly say that many of us would have lost our homes,” Hetherington said, adding many of the residences had roof damage.
“It was raining on the inside, basically,” she said. “We actually had homes that were uninhabitable.”
The co-op spent $750,000 of its own equity on the renovations, which began in 2019.
Hetherington said thanks to the funding, the co-op’s housing charge is only increasing by one per cent for the coming year, and it is still able to offer safe, affordable housing.
Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.