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Good timing for good initiative
Nov 19, 2004

As this WREN issue hits the streets on Friday morning, the three levels of government, through the Winnipeg Housing and Homelessness Initiative, are participating in a special funding announcement that commemorates National Housing Day 2004. 

The announcement involves an infill housing project that will result in 22 new energy-efficient homes being built in the Daniel McIntyre, Sargent Park, St. Matthews and Weston neighbourhoods. 

Clearly, a lot has been going on in Winnipeg over the past few years through the efforts of various housing groups who are reinvesting and helping to revitalize inner-city neighbourhoods where housing stock has deteriorated. These groups are either completely restoring or replacing a home in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood. 

Collective and collaborative efforts by the three levels of government and housing stakeholders need to be acknowledged and recognized. The 

issue of neighbourhood revitalization housing is 

immense, complex and critical to the well being of all Canadians.

The scale and scope of housing needed in a city such as Winnipeg can be quite overwhelming. It is therefore necessary to have vested interest or work in partnership in housing to tackle the job head on and celebrate the little victories that come along. 

It just so happens that on the street, block 

and address (a completed infill show home by Streetside Development Corporation), where this National Housing Day infill housing announcement is being made, only a few houses down the street is one of the Housing Opportunity Partnership’s first homes which was completed in 1999. It was a refurbished bungalow sold to a lady with a disabled son. HOP was able to accommodate her wish to have a wheelchair access ramp leading up to the home.

A few years later, infill houses are being introduced alongside refurbished homes, creating a positive impact on the streets they are being built on. The mix of refurbished homes with new ones is a powerful tandem which makes sense since it is neither feasible, nor realistic, in some cases, to salvage a home that has regressed too far or is too small to justify the considerable reinvestment needed to bring it back to a quality home.

Two days prior to this infill housing announcement, HOP celebrated the completion of its 50th home at 530 Langside St. This home is on one of the streets and blocks that has definitely been transformed in the past few years through all of the housing renewal activities. The participating housing initiatives also include Spence Neighbourhood Association, Lazarus Housing, Habitat for Humanity and the Winnipeg Housing Rehabilitation 

Corporation.

HOP’s event at Langside was significant for 

a number of reasons. It was doing its first home on a street where only a few years ago the street would not have been considered — it would 

have determined back then that the gap between acquisition/refurbishment costs was too high 

and the market value would not meet expectations. 

The reality is that people are now willing to pay more for a home on such streets due to all of the positive community revitalization efforts. The obvious physical signs of restoration — existing home reclamation projects or the more recent introduction of new infill homes — are making a difference.

Another reason this event was significant is that there is more community capacity in place with other housing groups active in the same vicinity. For example, next door to 530 Langside is a boarded up, derelict home that Lazarus Housing has acquired and is beginning to restore. 

There are other housing delivery organizations, especially Spence Neighbourhood Association, which is responsible for the neighbourhood in which some HOP homes are being acquired. These organizations understand the value of HOP’s neighbourhood stabilizing efforts through strategic acquisitions and reintroduction of committed, new homeowners to streets that were 

becoming far too run down.

It can also be said that the celebration of HOP’s 50th home is important because it demonstrates what can be accomplished by a group of committed volunteers carrying out a vision of neighbourhood revitalization through a successful homeownership program. Of course, the volunteers, who have been on the HOP Board and currently serve as directors, bring considerable housing acumen and expertise to the ongoing deliberations in areas such as real estate acquisition and marketing, home buyer profiles, the 

financial logistics of homeownership and neighbourhood dynamics.

Winnipeggers can take some pride on National Housing Day 2004 in knowing that there are a number of local housing initiatives actively committed to creating vibrant inner-city neighbourhoods and opportunities for low- to moderate-income people to obtain affordable homes.