Diane Pelletier works for the Kenora Association for Community Living (KACL), and she says tenants have been gradually moving into the Waterview Inn.
"KACL recognizes that having a place to call home -- sort of a place where you feel you belong -- is meaningful for all of us. So, it's really important that people living at the Waterview see it as their place and their home," she said yesterday.
Pelletier notes there were more than 70 applications for the 11 spaces at the former Tower Motel, and staff with the All Nations Health Partners are working to find more spaces for those in need. The project of the All Nations Health Partners is made up of 15 members of health agencies or organizations in the Kenora area, including KACL.
Over the summer, a number of people started living in tents in encampments in the city. As the weather got colder, advocates worried about the condition of these people, so community partners stepped in to try and help.
With a number of projects in the planning stages to offer help for those in need -- including treatment beds and more affordable housing units -- agencies have been working together in an effort to provide a bridge for those without a home for 12 to 24 months, until the new units and supports are available.
In particular, the All Nations Health Partners are working to ensure the well-being and safety of those in need, for this project, meaning the development of solutions for individuals who lack appropriate affordable and safe housing.
"One of the areas we want to look at is how we can assist people with accessing services they've had difficulty accessing, whether it's because of transportation or not having a health card or whatever the issues may be," Pelletier added.
The Waterview - formerly the Tower Motel -- was leased by the Kenora District Services Board to initiate this project. In part, the units at the motel replace some of the affordable housing units lost in the city, such as the Kenwood, Adams Block and Norman Hotel.
Pelletier says KACL was called in to offer their gifts and strengths to help manage the project. The association has 60 years of history and experience in creating a safe and supportive home. This experience would be helpful to the people who will reside at the Waterview, and it's in support of the vision of the All Nations Health Partners, she added.
Before the opening of the new units, Pelletier noted that a working group was developed with many of the partners spearheaded by WNHAC and KACL to develop processes and to welcome individuals most in need and to ensure the safety and dignity of citizens.
The Kenora Waterview Housing Project welcomed the first individuals into a warm safe space a few days before Christmas, offering 24-hour supports to those calling the Waterview home.
While there's no timeline for tenants, Pelletier said there are expectations and responsibilities for the people, who have agreed to live there and who call Kenora Waterview their home:
- Take care of yourself
- Take care of each other
- Take care of this place – your place.
Priorities for housing were first provided to elders who have medical concerns and women who are pregnant.
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