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80 supportive housing units to be built in 2 Edmonton neighbourhoods by end of 2021

Click to play video: '80 supportive housing units to be built in 2 Edmonton neighbourhoods by end of 2021' 80 supportive housing units to be built in 2 Edmonton neighbourhoods by end of 2021
The city of Edmonton says the $17 million provided by the federal government will be used to build supporting housing in King Edward Park and Wellington neighbourhoods. Kendra Slugoski has the details. – Dec 15, 2020

In 12 months’ time, Edmonton will have 80 more long-term supportive housing spaces for people struggling with homelessness.

Read more: Edmonton to receive $17M in federal dollars for new housing

Mayor Don Iveson announced Tuesday how Edmonton would use the $17.3 million it was allocated in October from the federal government’s Rapid Housing Initiative.

In order to speed up completion, address the “dire need” for housing and limit the construction disruption to the neighbourhoods, the city will build modular housing units off site.

Rapid Housing design proposed for Wellington neighbourhood in Edmonton. While the design could still change; the height and density won’t. Supplied: Rapid Housing Initiative

“Community members who participated in engagement were informed about the conversion from a traditional build to modular when we shared the What We Heard reports with them in late November,” a city spokesperson told Global News in a statement.

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“The buildings will be indistinguishable from traditional builds and residents of the building will receive the same support services as they would in any other supportive housing development.”

Read more: Edmonton mayor asks province for $17M in annual funding for supportive housing services

The homes are expected to be in place by the end of 2021, Iveson said. That’s a year ahead of schedule, according to the city.

“These will be supportive housing projects where folks will be able to stay as long as they need to to get settled,” he explained.

“It’s not just an apartment; it’s also a community and it’s a community with supports that meet people where they’re at, in terms of trauma and addictions and mental health.

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“They are communities of healing, in my view, with supports embedded to make sure that folks are successful at staying housed and on their journey of recovery, whatever that looks like for each individual.”

Rapid Housing design proposed for King Edward Park neighbourhood in Edmonton. While the design could still change; the height and density won’t. Supplied: Rapid Housing Initiative

Iveson said the two neighbourhoods were consulted and their concerns addressed.

Read more: If ‘Not In My Back Yard’, then where? Edmonton talks homelessness

“There’s often stigma and fear around these projects coming to a neighbourhood and that’s understandable for various reasons.

“So the city did quite a bit of public engagement to hear people’s fears and also provide people the facts of what well-run housing does.

“We hear that fear and we’ve heard that fear at city hall and it’s also one of the reasons why council has taken the step of saying we want to develop sites around the city as opposed to all concentrated in one neighbourhood,” the mayor said.

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Iveson thanked the federal government for its support. He also thanked and praised agency partners for their hard work and evidence-based practices that “have shown tremendous benefits back to the all taxpayers through reducing people’s avoidable engagement with the health and justice system by meeting their needs with better housing as a preventative strategy.”

Read more: 15 Canadian cities to share $500M for rapid housing amid coronavirus: feds

The mayor said Edmonton has already applied for the second stream of federal funding through the Rapid Housing Initiative to build 100 more units.

However, Iveson said making progress will take continued work and continued cooperation from all levels of government.

“This is just a start.”

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