The Government of Canada and the Province of Manitoba announced today that renovations are underway for 60 apartment units at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM) building on Isabel Street. The redesign of a former apartment complex will enhance housing quality and accessibility for newcomers to Winnipeg.
The Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety and Member of Parliament for Provencher, on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC); and the Honourable Kerri Irvin-Ross, Minister of Housing and Community Development made the announcement.
"Our Government is providing a hand-up to those who need it most here in Winnipeg and in all corners of the country," said Minister Toews. "Funding projects like this one will not only improve the overall housing conditions for low-income families, but also helps to stimulate the local economy and create jobs."
"Affordable and adequate housing for newcomers to Canada is a fundamental requirement to begin a new and successful life," said Irvin-Ross. "As a province, Manitoba has a proud tradition of welcoming immigrants to our great province and we continue to support the development of more affordable housing for our growing communities. We are well on our way to meeting the goals of our five-year plan of creating 1,500 new affordable homes."
The IRCOM Isabel project received an estimated $14.7 million in federal and provincial investment. Renovations to the complex will include new windows, roof, doors and landscaping with a minimum of one barrier-free apartment per floor. In addition, a new ventilation and security system will be installed. The new interiors will be designed to allow for flexible apartment sizes to accommodate multi-generational and larger families. The new floor plan will have 12 one-bedroom, 24 two-bedroom and 24 three-bedroom units. The innovative flexible designs will allow IRCOM to house family sizes from two to ten family members.
"Over the past two decades, thousands of our fellow Manitobans got their start at our IRCOM Ellen facility and have gone on to contribute tremendously to our province," said Glenn Cheater, chair of the IRCOM Board of Directors. "There is no question history will repeat itself at IRCOM Isabel. This is a hand-up, not a handout, and an investment that will pay rich dividends for the entire province in the years and decades to come."
IRCOM offers secure, affordable apartments to newcomer families for up to three years after their arrival. In addition, the organization provides onsite supports and services including an after-school program for children and youth, a community resource program that connects community members with employment, education, and various health resources and a literacy initiative which consists of English as an additional language classes.
Funding for this project was made available through Canada's Economic Action Plan, the federal government's plan to stimulate the economy and create jobs during the global recession. The federal and provincial governments are contributing equally to this overall investment of $176 million under the amended Canada-Manitoba Affordable Housing Program Agreement.
The Government of Canada, through CMHC, will invest approximately $2 billion in housing this year. Of this amount, $1.7 billion will be spent in support of almost 605,000 households living in existing social housing. In Manitoba, this represents some 40,700 households. These investments are improving the quality of life for low-income Canadians and households living in existing social housing, including individuals who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness, seniors, persons with disabilities, recent immigrants and Aboriginal people.
HOMEWorks! is Manitoba's long-term housing strategy. Under this strategy, the province, through Manitoba Housing with the financial support of the Government of Canada, continues to make significant investments in social and affordable housing. The province has committed to the development of 1,500 affordable housing units across the province and has already approved to the development of more than 1,000 homes. HOMEWorks! supports ALL Aboard, Manitoba's poverty-reduction strategy, by increasing the supply of quality, affordable housing for low-income Manitobans.