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This article was published 19/3/2018 (805 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A new report has found that the WestEnd Commons model has marked benefits for low-income communities.
"Here We’re At Home" by Jess Klassen, with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, was recently released to the public. The report states that low-income renters in Winnipeg are facing a "severe housing shortage," which has prompted organizations like the CCPA to look into what kinds of resources actually made a difference for this population.
Klassen spent three years simultaneously volunteering with the WestEnd Commons’ Community Life Committee and getting to know the tenants that live there. Once a year, she interviewed them on a number of topics.
Her report finds that "providing social supports is crucial to help families thrive and maintain their housing," which WestEnd offers in a myriad of ways. In addition to providing 26 apartments, ranging from one- to four-bedrooms, at a subsidized price, WestEnd’s philosophy is to work with tenants rather than against them.
WestEnd’s community connector Cheryl Starr spends her days getting to know the tenants and supporting them in any way she can.
"I’m here during the day… so if people have issues in regards to rent or repairs and they’re not getting results, they can speak to me," Starr said. "If someone is looking for a job or child care or parenting programs they can come to me in the office.
"The purpose is to provide whatever assistance we can to maintain tenancy because we don’t want anyone to leave and we don’t want anyone to lose their home."
Starr says that they have issued only two evictions since the St. Matthews Church was renovated to add living space. Many of the tenants who first moved in at that time are still there today, and most take part in — or lead — the many programs that are in place.
"I’m creating opportunities for people to know their neighbours," Starr said. "The hope is that if support was needed at a time I wasn’t there after hours that they have someone to turn to."
Tenant Alice Konefall teaches music and another tenant, Svitlana Tyutyunnyk, teaches a children’s art class.
"I generally offer things geared towards interest," Starr explained.
When The Metro visited the Commons on March 13, tenant Olga Rogonzina was leading a group in preparing a dinner that they would later eat together.
"It’s pretty good because it’s a sense of a neighbourhood in the middle of the city," Rogonzina said. Originally from Russia, she now works part time at the Commons. Her children go to school nearby and she feels it’s a safe area for them.
Community journalist — The Metro
Alana Trachenko is the community journalist for The Metro Email her at alana.trachenko@canstarnewscom Call her at 204-697-7132
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