Seniors housing project receives funding boost

Group plans to convert vacant lot into affordable rental units

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/08/2021 (398 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

An upcoming seniors housing complex will bring new life to the West Alexander neighbourhood — at least that’s what project organizers hope.

For years, the property at 55 Harriet St. has been an impromptu garbage dump, a pit-stop for drivers to change the oil in their cars, and a magnet for nefarious activity, Catherine Collins told The Times.

Collins, 67, has lived in the neighbourhood since the 1980s and has observed these activities firsthand. That’s why she agreed to work with developer Phil Dlot to transform the property into something positive.

Supplied image A rendering of a seniors housing complex set to be constructed on Harriet Street, with a completion date of 2022.

“(Phil) had done some inner-city housing projects with other community groups that were affordable housing. And so he approached me a few years ago — I’d say about four years ago — and he said, ‘Cathy, how do you feel about working on a housing project?’”

Collins, who has experience working on inner-city housing issues, said she proceeded to canvass the neighbourhood to gain insight and perspective from residents, who responded with the idea of seniors housing.

In 2016, people aged 50 and over accounted for 27.2 per cent of the overall West Alexander population. (However, people aged 90 and up accounted for zero per cent of the population.)

“We decided we would target seniors (who live) in the inner city, because there’s a lot of amenities in the neighbourhood within walking distance. And lower-income seniors don’t necessarily have vehicles. So we’ve got bus routes, bike paths, we’ve got the Health Sciences (Centre), we have good grocery stores, hairdressers, churches.”

She established the Harriet Street Seniors’ Housing Project to spearhead the initiative and acquire funding. The organization purchased the lot from Canadian Tire.

The project is expected to cost between $8 and $10 million. The challenge now is collecting that money, Collins explained. So far, they’ve acquired a $550,000 loan from the Jubilee Fund.

Collins, a retired professional fundraiser for the Winnipeg Art Gallery, said they will begin raising money soon.

The building will offer a mix of 49 one- and two-bedroom units, with some being wheelchair-accessible. The tentative timeline sees the project wrapping up in late 2022.

“It’s not going to be a 10-storey building; it’s going to be something that’s compatible with the surrounding housing,” Collins reassured.

When it comes to safety, Collins said security cameras and lighting will be installed. There will be limited access to the building, which will also be surrounded by a high fence.

The project is supported by local organizations and officials at all three levels of government, including Coun. Vivian Santos (Point Douglas), whose ward the project falls under.

“I think this building will also serve to revitalize our neighbourhood by replacing some of the area’s housing that seemed lost from age and neglect. So a new building like this will definitely benefit the surrounding area. I’m very excited and it aligns with my community vision for Point Douglas in Winnipeg,” Santos said.

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