Moving is now complete at 544 Bridgeport Rd E. The Executive Director of MennoHomes, Dan Driedger, said construction began in May 2020 - just as the pandemic was taking hold.
"Remarkably, through the whole thing, we've actually been able to complete construction inside a year. Our tenants began moving in in June," Driedger said. "Now 48 households are calling it home."
For this project, MennoHomes partnered with St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church and Parents for Community Living, a non-profit charity that works with people who have developmental disabilities.
"St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church had a prime piece of real estate that they were wondering what to do with," he said. Wanting the space to act as a community hub, they decided to turn it into affordable housing, and reached out to MennoHomes to develop the site.
"The church will continue to have worship space there, and Parents for Community Living will also have a teaching Kitchen, moving towards creating a bit of a community hub there as well," Driedger said.
Through their partnership with Parents for Community Living, the site has enabled some residents to live independently for the first time after years of living in a group home.
Driedger said these folks now have some breathing space where rent is affordable, so now they can focus on other things in their lives.
"I wish people could be on the phone and hear that their application has been selected and approved to move into the affordable housing."
With respect to the housing crisis the region is currently facing, Drieger said one of the biggest challenges is access to land.
"That's where the partnership and the church reaching out to MennoHomes to redevelop that site was a real bonus for us, because we wouldn't have been able to compete for that land on the open real estate market," he said, adding that they still have space on the site for a second phase of the project.
The help of all levels of government and donations from the community is what made this project happen, said Driedger.