The federal government announced Wednesday it is investing $6.4 million to the Grace Gardens project at the former Parkview Motel that will create 32 new, permanent, affordable homes in Guelph.
The funding will go into renovating the 721 Woolwich St. into studio apartments.
“These homes will support people who are experiencing homelessness, Indigenous peoples and those living with complex health needs,” said Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, during a virtual announcement Wednesday morning.
“Simply put, we all agree, all of us here agree that affordable housing should not be a luxury. It is a necessity. It is how parents can plan for the future of their kids. It can make the difference between making ends meet or getting ahead. And we know that everyone, everyone in our communities, deserves a safe and affordable place to call home.”
Hussen said the rapid housing initiative is part of the 10-year national housing strategy.
“We are just thrilled to have this project get the funding it needs to make it really beautiful and deeply affordable and a beautiful place to live for our community members that have been homeless for years and struggling with mental health and addictions,” said Stepping Stone’s executive director Gail Hoekstra.
She said at the heart of the project will be the importance of the 24/7 care centred work that needs to be provided on site. Last year, Stepping Stone received $1.2 million in funding from the County of Wellington and Ontario’s Social Services Relief Fund to purchase the motel.
“It's just thrilling and it's one step towards other projects. I'm a social worker. So to be in the arena of the political world and getting this done has definitely been out of my comfort zone. But I think the vision of all of us that work in homelessness is simple. People need affordable housing and those that are chronically and struggling with acute issues need permanent supportive housing.”
Mayor Cam Guthrie said housing is one of the most common concerns he hears from residents in Guelph whether it is from residents frustrated with the local real estate market, those struggling with the high cost of rent or those concerned with homelessness in the city.
“It is simply unacceptable that in a city as prosperous as ours, we have people that are living in tents or on the streets. As a community, we have set a goal of ending homelessness.
“A very wise person, Dominica McPherson, from the Guelph Wellington Poverty Task Force once told me the solution to homelessness is housing. And thanks to today's announcement, 32 people will now have the permanent housing they need and the support they need to address mental health or the addictions issues or concerns they have.”