Indwell seeks nearly $9.7M municipal commitment for housing project

Indwell seeks nearly 97M municipal commitment for housing project

To help leverage funding from other levels of government, an affordable housing provider is seeking a commitment of nearly $9.7 million from the municipality.

With the idea in the works for the past two years, Indwell is proposing the redevelopment of the former St. Agnes school in Chatham, creating 95 affordable units across a variety of housing types and spectrum of supports.

Graham Cubitt, Indwell’s director of projects and development, urged councilors during the recent budget presentation to look at the funding commitment as a strategic investment.

“We don’t actually believe that you need to spend that much money,” he said. “We just need you to commit to it, and worst-case scenario spend it.

“But best-case scenario, and most likely, is (to) make a significantly less, significantly smaller contribution in the end.”

In addition to the funding request to the municipality, the federal share is pegged at $12.72 million, the provincial share at $5.25 million, and Indwell’s contribution at $3.44 million.

“The feds don’t lead, they follow,” Cubitt added. “It’s kind of the same with the province at the moment. What we need is for you to help us move the idea forward.”

Councilors will discuss the issue in further detail at a future budget meeting, as the opening night was for staff’s presentation and community deputations only.

South Kent County. Anthony Ceccacci was curious why the cost estimate was greater for the municipality than the province.

Cubitt said there are provincial programs that haven’t yet been re-announced, but in order to apply, there has to be a “complete budget picture.”

He added the municipal contribution could also be a multi-year commitment, and that if all goes well with the application, construction could begin as soon as this summer or fall.

Founded in 1974, Indwell is a registered charity, based in Hamilton, that is currently working with eight municipalities in the province to help address challenges related to housing.

“It’s a complex dynamic. It’s individual for each person,” Cubitt said. “But there’s common themes that work. And the number one base for what works is supportive, long-term housing.”

He said stability is crucial for people coming out of shelters, hospitals or precarious situations, in order to help them “achieve their recovery goals.”

These goals can include treating their mental illness, breaking the addiction cycle, reconnecting with family, or improving their education and skills.

“Homelessness is not unfortunately just a big city issue anymore,” Cubitt said. “’How did we get here?’ is one question. But then ‘what do we do about?’ is maybe the most important question.

“We know that we want our tenants to belong.”

Last year in London, Indwell opened 72 housing units.

Cubitt said Indwell prides itself on community consultation as the process unfolds. He said this is no different with respect to the St. Agnes project, which local group NeighbourLink Chatham-Kent has also been a driving force behind.

He added the surrounding community has been supportive at various events, including barbecues and tours.

“We’ve been very actively working with our neighbors there,” he said.

“There’s been no opposition so far. … There’s been some concerns and questions, and legitimate points we’ve needed to consider. But all of that has been constructive towards what we could we do to use this site, use this property, to honor the legacy of the school. And to create solutions that work for our community.”


    Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.