By Sue Stefko
(Appeared in the Glebe Report, February 2017)
As we embark upon a new year, the Glebe Annex Community Association (GACA) is closely following a proposed new housing development in its southern end. The City of Ottawa has applied to obtain 289 Carling Avenue, a small plot of land on the corner of Bell St. South and Carling Ave, from the federal government as part of the Surplus Federal Real Property for Homelessness Initiative. This initiative makes surplus federal real properties available for projects to help prevent and reduce homelessness.
The current approach to fighting homelessness favoured by the federal government is called Housing First, which, according to the Economic and Social Development Canada website, “involves moving individuals who are chronically or episodically homeless from the streets or homeless shelters directly into permanent housing.” The website adds that, “Permanent housing is complemented by the provision of services to assist clients to sustain their housing and work towards recovery and reintegration into the community.”
Accordingly, should the City of Ottawa obtain this land, it plans to build permanent supportive housing on the site. The precise model is not yet set in stone, but the city’s initial proposal includes building a five or six story building of somewhere between 40 and 55 bachelor apartments for the chronically homeless.
While there are no concrete timelines yet established, likely milestones include a transfer of the land to the city at some point in the next fiscal year, with a request for proposal (RFP) occurring in the fall of 2017, or potentially early in 2018, in which the city will ask for developers to bid on the project. Construction is not expected to start until 2018.
GACA was first made aware of this development in October 2016, and immediately began to engage with Councilor Chernushenko as well as the City’s Housing Services Branch in order to obtain more information. The development was discussed at length during the GACA Annual General Meeting in November, in which residents had the opportunity to voice their thoughts, and in many cases strong concerns, to Councilor Chernushenko.
So far, community reaction within the Glebe Annex has been mixed. Many have expressed concerns regarding possible impacts on community safety and property values. Many others identified the need for services to accommodate the new residents, as adding accommodation for 40 to 55 chronically homeless people to a community as small as GACA is a significant change. These concerned residents draw attention to the fact that amenities such as grocery stores, pharmacies and recreational facilities are non-existent within the neighbourhood. Without action in these areas, these residents feel that it will be difficult for clients to sustain their housing and work towards recovery.
Finally, others are approaching this development with a certain amount of optimism, and feel any new residents should be made to feel safe and welcome in the neighbourhood.
GACA plans to stay involved throughout the process, and will continue to keep our community informed. We also ask that residents continue to submit their thoughts and feedback to both Councilor Chernushenko as well as City of Ottawa Housing Services, to make sure that community input is received and taken into consideration.
If you have any questions, or would like to be more closely involved in the process, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The site at 289 Carling is proposed for a housing development for the chronically homeless