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Area residents get chance to talk to those behind permanent supportive housing project

'We’re very invested in the community, and we don’t want to build something that won’t be an asset to the community'

The three organizers behind the permanent supportive housing proposal for Shelldale Crescent met with residents Monday night to discuss more of the project’s details. 

Gathering at the Shelldale Centre, residents met with representatives of Skyline Group of Companies, Kindle Communities and Guelph Community Health Centre.

The in-person event was organized to adhere to public health guidelines, which limited the number of people allowed to enter at a time, but it didn’t deter residents from waiting to go in and ask questions.

Melissa Kwiatkowski, the primary health director at Guelph CHC, says it was good to see so many come out to their event.

“It’s great that we have people here who really want to talk to us,” she says at the event, “and we’re really hoping to engage the community on this.”

Besides representatives, charts and vision boards were also available to provide further information and a layout of what the permanent supportive housing would look like.

New designs show  the permanent supportive housing as a storey building with 32 units in total. The first floor will feature a community kitchen, laundry room, amenity rooms, program rooms and resources for 24/7 on-site support for health needs. Within the building, each floor will hold eight units and accessible housing options will be available. 

“Folks can go down and put a load of laundry on, and sit at a table and have coffee and talk to their neighbours, talk to maybe some of the staff,” says Sheila Markle, the CEO of Kindle Communities. 

For this project, Kwiatkowski adds that Guelph CHC will be hiring new staff for all on-site support, which will not take away from current community programs set up within the neighbourhood.

“This isn't a reallocation of existing resources, this would be a new model," she explains.

The on-site support being offered will provide ‘wraparound’ care which includes nursing, navigation, recreation and more. Kwiatkowski says this is not a typical model of care, but it has been successful in other parts of Canada and the world.

“People are whole beings, they have lots of needs and often times what we do at the CHC is address the social determinants of health,” she says,

She lists factors like housing, education, income, depression and other things impact people’s health the most.

"So we're able with our interdisciplinary teams to really wrap support around folks to address all the different aspects that are important to them." says Kwiatkowski.

To help support the people who would live in the units, Greg Jones of Skyline Group of Companies says their aim is to keep rental prices between $650-$700. 

"We want to give Ontarians affordable housing," says Jones. "This might be your mother, brother, sister or father, who might have a disability, who can't find anywhere affordable to live." 

With a clearer concept for what this supportive housing will look like, Jones says they will continue to engage with the community through more events like this before presenting to council.

"Once we have that feedback we'll enhance the plan and file for a zoning amendment." he says.

When it comes to feedback from residents about the project, Markle notes that they have had more positive responses than negative. 

She goes on to say that a lot of the concerns stem from fear of who would be moving into those houses, and there are lots of people who are homeless for different reasons other than some of the labels that people put on them.

“We’re very invested in the community, and we don’t want to build something that won’t be an asset to the community,” she explains,  “We want it to be even better than it is now.”

“People have a right to be housed and none of us get to choose who our neighbours are.” 

With 2023 only a few years away, Markle says they hope this project will aid in Guelph and Wellington County’s plan to end homelessness.

“We have to do something because what we’re doing (currently) isn’t working.”