Century-old Church Lives on as Affordable Housing in Winnipeg
For many neighbours living in a Winnipeg inner city neighbourhood, the quality affordable housing that is now being provided inside a revamped church is a rare find.
St. Matthew’s Anglican Church was re-purposed into WestEnd Commons to include 26 affordable apartments, a 1,000 square foot atrium, a fully-restored commercial kitchen and a 9,000 square foot neighbourhood resource centre. A smaller sanctuary was also incorporated into the design to allow for continued worship services.
“This community-based initiative created a sustainable, long-term solution,” said Reverend Cathy Campbell. “The smaller sanctuary is more appropriate for our needs and the redevelopment of our church has enabled us to keep an important community resource in the neighbourhood.”
Prior to this project, the massive, century-old St. Matthew’s Anglican Church was in critical condition. Rain was coming in, mould appeared and floors were rotting. Also at stake was the loss of a dynamic neighbourhood resource centre and kitchen that fed over 900 people each week. The congregation knew it had to renew the building or close it but its financial and human resources were limited.
WestEnd Commons took over five years to complete and received $1,875,000 in combined federal and provincial funding through the Canada – Manitoba Affordable Housing Initiative. The project also received $836,985 in federal funding through the Homelessness Partnering Strategy as well as a provincial contribution of more than $1.6 million. Funding support was also provided by the City of Winnipeg. The project also received Seed funding from CMHC.
Craig Sharpe and his wife Linda moved into WestEnd Commons in December 2014. The couple were married in St. Matthew’s Church where Craig is also an active volunteer. Prior to the move, the couple lived for four years in an apartment they couldn’t afford. Now, thanks to the affordable new housing which includes 20 rent-geared-to-income apartments, the couple is able to save a bit of money and pay off some debts.
“It’s very hard to find something affordable when you are on social assistance. Our apartment here is clean, quaint, comfortable and quiet. Things are coming around and starting to fall into place,” Craig said.