From the KW Record
KITCHENER — This time next year, people will be unpacking boxes and moving in to a new affordable housing project at Bridgeport Road and Lancaster Street.
“A year from now it’s not going to be bricks and mortar, it’s going to be home,” said Dan Driedger, executive director of MennoHomes, the non-profit that is building the project.
He was speaking Tuesday at a news conference where the federal and provincial governments announced $3.8 million in funding for the project.
Dignitaries huddled under tents at the muddy construction site as a thin drizzle fell, but the mood at the event was sunny.
“It’s great to talk about the money, and it’s wonderful to see the construction, but it’s really important to talk about the lives that will be impacted” by having access to a decent home they can afford, Driedger said. Having a home provides hope for a better future, and the stability to pursue opportunities to make that future come true, he said.
The funds announced Tuesday will help build a five-storey apartment building with 40 one-bedroom units and eight two-bedroom units, renting at different levels of affordability. Twelve units will be fully accessible, and the entire building will have wider hallways and doorways, roll-in showers and electric scooter storage.
The project also has a strong community focus, with a community kitchen, shared meeting space, a community garden and worship space for the congregation of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, which owns the property.
The pandemic lockdown made it clear how important it is to have a home, said Waterloo MP Bardish Chagger, who was at the event with Ontario Housing Minister Steve Clark. For most Canadians, “their home has become a sanctuary, a place of safety and refuge in challenging times,” she said.
The project makes a small dent in the need for housing in the region, said regional Chair Karen Redman. “With 6,000 households on the wait list, there is a lot more work to be done,” she said.
The project is a collaboration between all three levels of government, and several community groups: MennoHomes, Parents for Community Living, a charity that supports adults with developmental disabilities, and St. Paul’s church.
The congregation “had a vision for this property,” Driedger said. “Instead of selling it to the highest bidder, they were very intentional about approaching us and using it for affordable housing.”
MennoHomes is working to raise $5 million for the project, and is “well over halfway” to meeting that goal, said fundraising chair Carl Zehr.
The announcement Tuesday also included $1.65 million in funding for a stacked townhouse project at 18 Guelph St. in Kitchener with 13 affordable units. The building will feature solar panels.