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'Hopefully, this will become a home': Construction to begin on housing-first project in Winnipeg


Construction is set to begin this week on a new housing project in Winnipeg's Centennial neighbourhood to give those experiencing homelessness a safe place to call home.

The project, going up at 390 Ross Avenue, will operate on a housing-first model. The province said this means sobriety will not be a requirement for residents to be able to move in, though there will be supports available for those recovering from addictions.

"When we look at what is going on in our city, there are lots of initiatives going on to support people at risk of homelessness, but I think the one thing we are not doing enough of is building homes," said John Pollard, whose family started Home First Winnipeg, a non-profit charity that will be operating the building.

"Hopefully, this will become a home."

The space will include 47-micro-suite apartments, and will include a commercial kitchen, common dining area, living room, game room and TV area, and an area for Indigenous cultural activities.

"This project is really about housing," Pollard said. "Mostly we just want to provide a safe place for people to live."

Manitoba Families Minister Rochelle Squires said she recognizes that housing and homelessness are a serious challenge in the City of Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba.

"One of the things that we've found is that we can't just provide the keys in all cases and expect the new tenant to be successful in their transition into their new home," she said. "There needs to be a suite of initiatives and wraparound support."

Knowledge Keeper Jaime Grasby held a pipe ceremony at the site Monday and prayed for the safety of the construction crews and people in the area, and for the project.

Grasby said she has been working in the community and has seen the need for this kind of space.

"You don't just magically learn how to live on your own. It takes practice, it takes a few tries sometimes for some people. To have that considered, or to have a support system available within easy reach is very important," she said.

The project was first announced in May, and is expected to cost $8 million. It is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2022.

The province is chipping in $1.1 million through the Canada-Manitoba Housing Agreement under the National Housing Strategy. The Pollard family is putting in $4.4 million through donations and fundraising. The City of Winnipeg is providing a $100,000 capital grant and another $800,000 is coming from a capital investment through the Shared Health Priorities Bilateral Agreement. Top Stories

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