An Indigenous-led affordable housing project in East London slated to start construction this year will include some apartment units for mothers enrolled in post-secondary school.
The four-storey, 42-unit complex will be located at 18 Elm St. on the site of the former Holy Cross Elementary School, south of Trafalgar Street near Hamilton Road. The school was demolished early last year.
Units in the site will be two-, three-, and four-bedroom apartments offered at 80 per cent median market rent. The project is aimed at making a dent in the pressing need for housing among Indigenous people living in London, although residency will be open to non-Indigenous people as well.
"There's a need for safe, affordable spaces," said Cathy Connor, director of development for Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services (OAHS), the provincial organization partnering with the City of London on the $19-million project.
The complex will include a daycare and other on-site services for tenants, which Connor said will be crucial to helping residents. Mothers who live at the site will be part of the Homeward Bound Program, which helps provide support and housing as they retrain. The program is operating now and run by London's N'Amerind Friendship Centre, but Connor said its 12 clients aren't currently housed under one roof.
"The moms are scattered throughout the city, instead of being together where they can help to support each other," she said.
The city, through its former Housing Development Corporation, is contributing $1.5 million to cover the land purchase along with some design and construction costs. The rest of the project cost will be covered by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing and the CMHC.
Initial approval of the city's contribution is expected to come at a council committee meeting Tuesday. Connor said she expects construction to begin this year, with the facility opening in mid-2024.