Calgary to be home to two more transitional housing projects

By CityNews Staff

The City of Calgary has chosen the HomeSpace Society to develop major housing projects for families.

The organization will build transitional housing on two city-owned sites to support families with children who are at a risk of, or who are already experiencing homelessness.

This comes as part of Calgary’s housing strategy — made up of 98 actions that aim to address the housing crisis, creating more homes in all shapes and sizes in all neighbourhoods to ensure every Calgarian has an affordable place to call home.

HomeSpace says it envisions three-bedroom residential townhouses to blend seamlessly into the communities — Horizon and Shawnee Slopes.

Gondek says these two sites will make a difference in the lives of families who deserve to live with dignity.

“Late last year, the city dedicated two sites — one at Whitehorn and the other at Fish Creek-Lacombe, both in the vicinity of LRT facilities,” Gondek said. “This was based on council direction within the Housing Strategy.”

Facilities like these have been successful in the past, according to HomeSpace CEO Bernadette Mejdell.

“Our two-storey town houses have already proved extremely effective in Seton, where we opened 45 stacked town homes for families last fall,” she said. “Given the need in Calgary, those units are full. Our families there are not only finding shelter but also flourishing within the community.”

Mejdell said the organization has committed to an 18-month timeline to complete the new project.

Council chose HomeSpace after Gondek said they’d learned one of the best ways to advance housing for families in precarious situations is to offer city-owned land to experts in supportive housing.

“It was something that closed on Jan. 15 of this year. By announcing HomeSpace today as the successful housing provider for this work, we now have two sites for housing that will make a difference in the lives of families who deserve to live with dignity,” she said.

CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, Patricia Jones, says waitlists for the properties already have families on them.

“We at CHF know right now there are about 170-plus families on our waiting list searching for housing,” she explained. “Many, right now might be with friends of family, they could be in shelters, they could be in hotels, or sometimes precarious, unsafe situations.

“Calgary’s children deserve a bedroom and their parents deserve the dignity of being able to provide for their kids,” Jones added.

Tim Ward, manager of housing solutions, says he’s excited to see the project move quickly.

“HomeSpace will go through the planning approval process and that will include some more details in terms of a Land Use Amendment and a development permit,” he explained. “As with all affordable housing projects, it will receive priority service, it will be expedited through the system. But, they will be responsible for now taking it through the development approvals process.”

Gondek adds these projects could pave the way for more in the future.

“This is a chance to test out how quickly we can get things done, we can find out what the communities have to say and we can adjust and adapt in any way that we need to,” she said.

Ward adds that HomeSpace has a strong track record of delivering housing for people in need.

HomeSpace Society currently operates 892 housing units in 34 properties, housing about 1,300 people across Calgary.

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