News

Bell Hotel ready to welcome new tenants

Bell Hotel ready to welcome new tenants

BY SUSIE STRACHAN
Winnipeg Health Region
Published Thursday June 30, 2011

Emergency shelters will be a thing of the past for a number of Winnipeg's homeless, when the reopened Bell Hotel takes in its first tenants in mid-July.

The Bell Hotel Supportive Housing complex on north Main Street has been redeveloped into 42 self-contained suites of affordable, permanent housing for people who have been homeless. The $5.2 million hotel renovation project was headed by CentreVenture and included funding from the federal and provincial governments.

Ross McGowan, President and CEO of CentreVenture, said the philosophy behind the project is "Housing First"; before a person's problems can be addressed, they first need a roof over their heads and a stable living situation.

"Situated in permanent housing, an individual can being to regain the self-confidence and control over their lives which was lost when they became homeless," said McGowan.

Along with a place to call their own, tenants will be able to take part in life skills development and counselling sessions.
 
The Winnipeg Health Region is one of many partners who will ensure people residing in the hotel are properly cared for, said Real Cloutier, Chief Operating Officer for the Winnipeg Health Region.

Among other things, the Region will provide case coordination for the 42 hotel residents in terms of providing health-care services and connections to social services. "We are taking the project lead in terms of coordinating relationships between the care provision and the housing coordinator," said Cloutier.

The Bell Hotel was originally constructed in 1906 in close proximity to the Canadian Pacific Railway station. In recent years, the North Main neighbourhood fell on hard times, and attracted the homeless population due to the number of support services available. CentreVenture purchased the building in 2007.

Housing and Community Development Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross said the building is part of a rejuvenation of Main Street and Winnipeg's downtown.

"Safe affordable housing is necessary before people can take a step toward a new beginning. Lives are going to be changed because it's affordable, it's safe and has wrap-around services," she said during a press conference at the hotel today.

Over 150 students from Robert Andrews School from East St. Paul spent the year studying homelessness. A number of the students toured the new housing units and provided gifts to the upcoming tenants, including footstools, laundry bags and health food.

CentreVenture gutted the building right to the outer brick walls. The building now has 14 suites per floor, each with its own washroom and basic kitchenette as well as wardrobe. Furniture will be provided, and will be as bedbug-free as possible. There is a room in the basement where residents' items can be heated to kill bedbugs.

There is a common room on each of the three floors, as well as laundry facilities. The main floor has a multi-purpose room where smudging ceremonies can be performed. The lobby has public washrooms, and there will be a green space patio alongside the building.

A 30-seat café will be operated on the main floor, further integrating the building into the neighbourhood. A teaching kitchen and multipurpose room will be made available to community organizations.

The building is owned by the CentreVenture Development Corporation and the property will be managed by the Winnipeg Housing Rehabilitation Corporation. CentreVenture is an arms-length agency of the City of Winnipeg. Capital funding was provided by the federal, provincial and municipal governments.

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