A proposal by a church in Elmwood to turn an empty lot and vacant building next to it into a four-storey, 40-unit sober living facility for adults is one step closer to becoming a reality.
The transitional housing project by the Riverwood Church Community on Talbot Avenue goes before the Winnipeg property and development committee at city hall Jan. 6.
A November report by the city’s urban planning and design division recommended approval for rezoning the property so the project — dubbed Riverwood House — can go ahead. On Dec. 4, the East Kildonan-Transcona community committee concurred.
The development at the corner of Talbot and Stadacona Street would include four floors, with 40 dwelling units — 39 that have a floor area of between 220 and 340 square feet, plus a larger, 560-square-foot suite for the building manager. The existing one-storey building onsite would be redeveloped into a restaurant to provide a meal program and vocational training for residents.
The plan is to provide a safe, supportive place for people to live after they’ve completed a recovery program, so they’re not having to return to "high-risk situations and struggle to achieve stability in their recovery over the long-term," Riverwood Church says online.
It has purchased the property at 307 and 315 Talbot Ave. for the program and, so far, there has been no opposition from the community to the church’s plan.
"This project aims to empower individuals to make healthy lifestyle choices, develop community, establish and realize goals, and develop their skills to become both stable and independent," the church says on its website.
The project would include common areas for residents, including a rooftop patio on the one-storey portion, a secure and weather-protected area for residents’ bicycles, a meeting room, two offices, a family room, laundry room and a reception area.
"The letter of intent states that the purpose of the proposed development is to ‘facilitate a community-based mature level of sober living for individuals recovering from substance addiction and/or homelessness’ and to support these individuals as they ‘transition from shelters to market housing,’" a report by the city’s urban planning and design division said in November.
The transitional housing project is being proposed by Winnipeg Supportive Housing Inc., in partnership with Riverwood Church Community.
"Participants will have the opportunity to experience a community environment with peer-based supports while gaining access to professional services and relational supports provided by on-site staff, partnering organizations and volunteers," the church says online.
Winnipeg has an estimated 1,500 people who are homeless because of mental illness, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues, the church says in its online information about the project.
"When an individual seeking support completes a recovery program, they are often placed back into high-risk situations and struggle to achieve stability in their recovery over the long-term," it says.
The proposed housing project for Elmwood designed by Sputnik Architecture has an estimated cost of $6.1 million, including the land. It would be financed by $3 million from donors, $1.2 million from government sources, and $1.9 million in mortgage financing, the church says online.
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