Released November 3, 2009
Changing Lives – Creating Partnerships
The lives of 18 individuals changed for the better today with the official opening of the Stella Burry Community Services’ new and much-anticipated housing project located at Rawlins Cross in downtown St. John’s.
The Honourable Susan Sullivan, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment, on behalf of the Provincial Government, announced the province’s funding commitment to this initiative at the grand opening event today.
"This project will provide affordable housing options for low-income single adults who constitute one of the greatest demands for social housing in the province," said Minister Sullivan. "The Provincial Government is very proud to be part of this impressive initiative. I would like to commend the efforts and vision of Stella Burry Community Services in developing this worthwhile project which will help society’s most vulnerable individuals."
The project has received a total of $1.6 million in funding from various provincial initiatives to off-set construction costs. Provincial funding of $900,000 is being provided through Newfoundland Labrador Housing under the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Affordable Housing Initiative and $216,000 under the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program.
In addition, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador invested $454,000, through the Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment to help operate a housing resource centre developed by Stella Burry Community Services. The centre will provide housing support services to individuals with complex service needs, and may include eviction prevention, tenant relations and outreach housing support.
In addition, the General Council of The United Church of Canada contributed $250,000 toward the completion of the project. Incorporated under The United Church of Canada, Stella Burry Community Services provides programs in the community that reflect the social justice philosophies of the United Church.
"This is such an exciting day for us," said Jocelyn Greene, Executive Director of Stella Burry Community Services. "From the beginning, the community, the city, our staff, our board members, as well as our federal and provincial partners have all been tremendously supportive of the entire project. I know it is because people relate to the work that we, as an organization, do in this community. We all firmly believe that everyone deserves an affordable and safe place to call home; that everyone deserves opportunity and supports to be the best person that they can be. A project such as this would not be possible without that strong, unified support, for which we are incredibly grateful and blessed."
"We are extremely proud of the work that is being carried out by Stella Burry Community Services, and are delighted to contribute to this wonderful project in St. John’s," said Mardi Tindal, Moderator of The United Church of Canada. "The availability of affordable housing has been a persistent concern of The United Church of Canada and our record of advocacy on issues relating to housing and homelessness is well known. The leadership shown by Stella Burry Community Services to increase the availability of housing for low income individuals in the St. John’s region is to be commended as we celebrate the opening of this beautiful building today," she added.
In Budget 2009: Building on Our Strong Foundation, the Provincial Government committed $23.6 million for housing investments throughout the province for items such as social housing renovations, energy retrofits, and social housing units for low-income seniors.
Also, in Budget 2009: Building on Our Strong Foundation, the Provincial Government committed $1.2 million for the creation of the Supportive Living Community Partnership, which supports a Housing First approach. This approach focuses on addressing homelessness through helping people become housed and then providing the necessary services so they may maintain that housing.
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Stella Burry Community Services
Located in Rawlins Cross at 84 Prescott Street, on the former site of the historic O’Mara-Martin Building, the three-story structure contains 18 suites of affordable housing and a resource centre that will offer a range of programs and services to help individuals struggling with chronic unemployment and affordable housing needs.
Stella Burry Community Services acquired the former O’Mara-Martin Building in late 2005, with the objective of creating a second mixed-use building that would provide office space as well as affordable housing. At the time, Stella Burry had just completed a similar mixed-use building on the site of the former Murphy Grocery across the street at Rawlins Cross intersection.
Like the Murphy Grocery site, the new building has also been restored similar to the appearance of the original O’Mara-Martin Building of the early 1900s, which was a clapboard structure with a mansard-style roof.
The new building will provide 18 single, self-contained apartments on the two upper floors, along with a common space for tenant social events. The United Church Women’s Groups from around the province have also provided homemade quilts, small appliances and sets of cooking utensils to complete each of the 18 suites.
The main floor will accommodate Stella Burry Community Services administrative staff and employment programs, including HOPEworks, which for eight years has been successfully assisting adults with little or no work experience to secure employment.