Edmonton celebrates completion of supportive housing project, 4 more on the way

Click to play video: '1st modular supportive housing project in Edmonton complete' 1st modular supportive housing project in Edmonton complete
After months of delays, construction at the city's first of five modular supportive housing projects is complete, and the contractors are handing over the keys. Sarah Ryan takes a look inside and at the financial hurdles ahead – Jun 30, 2022

Construction is complete on a new supportive housing project in south Edmonton, and the city says it’s the first of five projects that will be completed in the coming weeks.

City, provincial and federal officials, as well as community members, celebrated the completion of the first project in King Edward Park on Thursday morning.

The four-storey housing site features a communal main floor for living space and wrap-around supports, like counselling and health care. There are 30 homes — each with their own kitchen and bathroom.

Some are barrier-free, for those with mobility issues. They’re all either one-bedroom suites, or studios.

The opening of the site was delayed due to several challenges, including availability of materials and availability of trade groups, the city said last December.

Read more: Edmonton’s new supportive housing won’t open until 2022

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In the next six weeks, the city said four additional supportive housing sites will be completed. The other four are located in Inglewood, Westmount, McArthur and Terrace Heights.

In addition to a safe, warm place to live, the supportive aspects of these projects include staff like counsellors, addictions workers and other health-care professionals.

All five sites were developed in collaboration with Homeward Trust, which will have full ownership.

The city said all five supportive housing developments will welcome residents later this summer.

“The pandemic hit Edmontonians hard, particularly those who were already precariously housed,” said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi. “These projects show the value of working together to find long-term solutions that not only help people get back on their feet, but also find a community with built-in supports.”

The projects were fast-tracked with funding from the federal government’s Rapid Housing Initiative, and will provide a total of 210 new homes to Edmontonians who have experienced homelessness.

“Homelessness is a reality for too many people in Edmonton, and we are working to ensure everyone in our community has a safe place to call home,” said Randy Boissonnault, federal Minster of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance. “This investment through the Rapid Housing Initiative will help our most vulnerable citizens, and will make a difference in the ongoing work to end homelessness and ensure housing affordability in Alberta and across the country.”

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Click to play video: 'Edmonton’s new supportive housing complexes won’t open this year' Edmonton’s new supportive housing complexes won’t open this year
Edmonton’s new supportive housing complexes won’t open this year – Dec 7, 2021

“The Alberta Government’s investment in this affordable housing infrastructure will help provide accessible homes for vulnerable Albertans,” said Ric McIver, the provincial minister of municipal affairs.

“Further, this investment will mean reduced costs for operators of those residences and has provided wide-ranging local construction jobs for builders.”

Click to play video: 'New supportive housing project complete in south Edmonton' New supportive housing project complete in south Edmonton
New supportive housing project complete in south Edmonton – Jun 30, 2022

Homeward Trust CEO Susan McGee said these projects are a huge step towards ending homelessness.

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“Supportive housing is a home, a place where people can recover, grow and ultimately succeed. It’s also a proven model that provides long-term, sustainable solutions for ending homelessness while mitigating the policing, justice and health costs associated with unaddressed homelessness,” she said.

Read more: Renovations underway to convert 2 former Edmonton hotels into affordable housing units

The city said construction was expedited by building the modular units off site, then hoisting and assembling them at the sites.

The federal government provided $35.1 million in funding, while the city contributed $28.3 million. The government of Alberta provided $16.4 million toward the Westmount site through its Municipal Stimulus Program.

The city said the second round of funding from the Rapid Housing Initiative will add another 243 supportive housing units in three hotel conversion projects.

“These homes not only provide residents with a warm and safe place to live, but also ensure physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health and wellness,” Sohi said.

McGee noted that the “folks that would be referred here would otherwise be really challenged in maintaining their housing independently.”

“Something as simple as a roof over your head is a luxury for some,” Boissonnault said. “We need to tackle that and end that.

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“We need to double down on the notion that housing is a fundamental human right.”

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