A Toronto-based housing organization is flipping a vacant commercial property in the North End into a multi-family apartment complex.
The project, located at 573 Mountain Ave., is Raising the Roof’s first venture outside of Ontario. The former spa and salon building will be divided into three separate units and tenants will pay rent at a reduced cost.
Raising the Roof provides national leadership on long-term solutions to homelessness. Through its Reside program, the organization renovates vacant or under-utilized spaces into energy-efficient, affordable housing, according to its website.
Adrian Dingle, director of housing development, said abandoned properties are key to Reside’s success.
"I think there’s a tremendous opportunity for them to become something really positive instead of eyesores or risks," he said.
Raising the Roof partners with social enterprises and other community-based organizations to perform projects. For the Mountain Avenue project, Raising the Roof is collaborating with Purpose Construction, a North End-based social enterprise that provides paid training to individuals who face barriers to employment. At least 40 people will receive training for this job.
"By training and employing hard working people with barriers to employment, Purpose Construction is reducing government social assistance costs, reducing recidivism rates, bringing families back together and helping people build stable, healthy lives," the organization’s website says.
Raising the Roof intends to use this project as a way to enter the Winnipeg market.
"It is our hope we can look for those larger projects and continue to grow with the community," Dingle said.
The organization is also finalizing details with the North End Community Renewal Corporation to offer wraparound support services to future tenants.
"The goal of our initiative is to provide housing to Indigenous families and, I think, NECRC would be a great partner for that," Dingle said.
After the design phase this summer, the construction period will last between five and six months, Dingle said.
Purpose Construction didn’t respond to an interview request by press time.
The Times community journalist
If The Buggles’ 1979 breakout single were about Sydney, it might be called Print Killed the Radio Star. Before she joined Canstar Community News, Sydney was an anchor and a reporter for a few local news radio stations in rural Manitoba. After realizing she enjoyed writing more than speaking, Sydney moved to Winnipeg just months after graduating from Carleton University in Ottawa with degrees in journalism and geography. Through clenched teeth and frostbitten fingers, she has come to appreciate Winnipeg — numbing winters and all. When she’s not in the newsroom, Sydney can be found playing card games, listening to music, and writing content for her friends who are too cheap to hire a PR team. Sydney has a strong heart for community news and believes every neighbourhood, town and city is better off because of it — although she may be biased. Sydney loves learning about communities and what makes them tick, which is why she’s grateful to be a reporter covering northwest Winnipeg neighbourhoods, where resilience and innovation is abundant. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org