Released June 29, 2007

Newfoundland Labrador Housing Announces
Four Initiatives to Help Beautify Its Neighbourhoods

Newfoundland Labrador Housing (Housing), in partnership with Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1860 and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1615, has initiated four new summer programs province-wide which will see public housing neighbourhoods revitalized and help Housing clients maintain and beautify their properties. These initiatives are slated to begin early July.

These initiatives were announced today by the Honourable Shawn Skinner, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment and Minister Responsible for Housing; Len Simms, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Newfoundland Labrador Housing; Wayne Lucas, President, CUPE, Newfoundland and Labrador; Bill Wakeley, President, CUPE Local 1860; and Bob Clarke, Business Manager, IBEW Local 1615.

"Over the past several years, it has been very difficult for Housing to put funds into the enhancement and beautification of its neighbourhoods given the lack of funding for such projects," said Minister Skinner. "The improvements we can provide under these programs can make big differences in our neighbourhoods. They will enable people to take pride in their homes and environment and will help contribute to a healthier community spirit."

"These initiatives are a work in progress, and our goal is to use them to improve and enhance the appearance, quality of life and environment of public housing in our province," said Mr. Simms. "We look forward to rolling out these programs, and creating more positive public perceptions about public housing."

"CUPE is certainly supportive of these campaigns. Investing in our young people and supporting the development of skills in the trades area through the Apprenticeship Program is indeed a worthwhile endeavour," said Wayne Lucas. "Teaching young people lifelong skills and responsibility will serve them well in the future."

"Not only are these initiatives great for our tenants, they are seen by our Housing maintenance staff as very positive," said Bill Wakeley. "Our highly-skilled workers are looking forward to mentoring the young people hired through the Apprenticeship Program."

"These initiatives for enhancing the neighbourhoods are proactive and positive programs for both tenants and the community as a whole," said Bob Clarke. "As well, an Apprenticeship Program for trades graduates in plumbing, carpentry and electrical to attain employment of up to 1,500 hours is a very important project – one that I would like to see other employers implement."

Also commenting on these initiatives, Matthew Piercey, Executive Director of Rabbittown Community Centre, in St. John’s, said: The community beautification initiatives are worth every dollar and minute of support provided. Improving the visual and aesthetic appearance of our communities will go a long way in creating pride and satisfaction in our neighbourhoods. It will certainly make a difference."

Theresa Dunn is chairperson of the Neighbourhood Enhancement Tenant Association in St. John’s. She is very excited about these initiatives. We,as a community, take pride in our homes and surrounding areas. We are looking forward to great things happening in our neighbourhoods as a result of these initiatives." The four new initiatives are as follows:

You and Your Home" Workshops

In partnership with bargaining unit staff, a series of workshops will be facilitated by Housing employees for tenants throughout the province, which will demonstrate basic skills in caring for your home. Maintenance staff with expertise in plumbing, electrical and carpentry will provide demonstrations in general care for the home to interested tenants. These workshops will be held in various neighbourhoods throughout the province. Notices will be issued to tenants, and they can notify their local regional office, if they are interested in participating.

Tidy Neighbourhoods Campaign

This campaign will be held in every neighbourhood in the province which is represented by a Tenant Association. This campaign will be treated as a contest whereby neighbourhoods can register to participate. Each participating neighbourhood will receive a grant to purchase flowers, paint fences, plant trees, etc., to "beautify" the neighbourhood. The finished neighbourhoods will be ranked by objective judges and the winner of the contest will receive $1,000 for their Tenant Association and will also be treated to a neighbourhood barbeque.

Apprenticeship Program

Housing recognizes the value of investing in our young people and supporting the development of skills in the trades area. In light of this, Housing will support approximately 10-12 male/female apprentices annually in areas such as plumbing, electrical, and carpentry. This program will be based mainly in Housing’s Avalon Regional Office. The apprentices will receive 1,500 hours of training which will qualify them for a second block of training.

Beautification Program

Beginning early July, Housing will assign a specific maintenance crew, in the Avalon Region, for a 12-week period whose sole job will be to repair, upgrade, paint and improve the appearance of common fences within various public housing neighbourhoods.

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Media contacts:

Colleen French
Communications Officer
Newfoundland Labrador Housing
Ed Moriarity
Director of Communications
Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment
709-729-4062, 728-9623
John McCracken
CUPE Communications Representative
Atlantic Region