Housing coalition wins Ottawa’s RFP to allocate $4.6 million in capital funding to build affordable housing for older adults

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The City of Ottawa has announced that the Carlington Community Health Hub Joint Partnership project is the successful proponent of a Request for Proposals (RFP) process to allocate $4.6 million in capital funding to build 42 affordable housing homes with integrated health and social supports for older adults.

“This is exciting news of an innovative project that increases the number of affordable housing homes in our city geared towards the needs of older adults,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “A stable and secure home is a basic necessity of life. With this project, we will provide older adults with access to a home and health services that will improve their quality of life as well as the well-being of the entire community.”

Ottawa Community Housing (OCH) and the Carlington Community Health Centre (CCHC) partnered on the project, which is scheduled to begin in 2016.

“This is a wonderful example of community collaboration,” said Coun. Mathieu Fleury, chair of OCH’s board of directors. “This key partnership will result in the creation of an innovative community hub that will provide health services and affordable housing for older adults of our community.”

This project by OCH and CCHC will represent a total investment of approximately $13 million supported by the City of Ottawa and the provincial and federal governments. The next step will be for the city to submit the chosen project to the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for funding approval under the Investment in Affordable Housing for Ontario (2014 Extension) Program.

The RFP process is part of the City of Ottawa’s Ten-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan, which was approved by Council in 2013 and demonstrates the City’s commitment to collaborating with community partners and stakeholders to eliminate chronic homelessness and build a city where everyone has a safe and affordable home.

“I am thrilled to announce the construction of this innovative facility – not only is it being built in Ottawa, but it is the first in the province. The work behind the Carlington Health Hub joint proposal was significant. An incredibly dedicated group of individuals from both organizations not only recognized but seized the opportunity that led to this submission,” Fleury said. “The Health Hub is specifically designed to provide affordable housing as well as a wide range of medical services and supports conveniently on site to help keep seniors in their homes longer.”

“Our proposal was developed in a collaborative partnership involving CCHC. It is the quintessential example of a community partnership that came together with the same objectives; to build new affordable homes for low-income seniors, while integrating primary medical care and support services under the same roof. It will be a model for integrated housing care,” said  OCH CEO Stéphane Giguère.

“This innovative approach of providing affordable housing and services in the same building allows seniors to age in place and takes the pressure off long term care facilities and hospitals,” said Cameron MacLeod, executive director, Carlington CHC. “It’s in line with the Local Health Integration Network’s (LHIN’s) vision to have emphasis placed on preventing illness and keeping people healthy at home in communities where they live, by giving them ready access to a ‘service hub.'”

The Ottawa Citizen says the initiative will be the first project of this kind in the province. The project is “a radical social innovation never seen anywhere else,” the Citizen quoted  Giguère as saying. “This is the first time a housing agency in Ontario and a clinic are doing business together in a joint venture,” he said. “We have never seen that before.”

The $13-million project already has $4.8 million from the Ontario Ministry of Health and another $3.6 million from Ottawa Community Housing.

The existing health centre at the corner of Merivale Rd. and Coldrey Ave. is a 1923 schoolhouse that was renovated about 20 years ago, the Citizen reported.  A health clinic occupies the second storey. The medical clinic will be moved to the ground floor of the new building, and there will be three storeys of housing on the upper three floors.

The seniors’ apartments will be self-contained, but each floor will also have a common kitchen and lounge to allow the residents to mingle, The Citizen story said. The old and the new buildings will be connected by a tunnel.

The health centre currently offers doctors, nurse practitioners and programs for all ages. The goal is to keep seniors as healthy as possible, reducing pressures on hospitals and emergency rooms, MacLeod said.

“We know we have tsunami of seniors coming,” she told The Citizen. “That means there will also be an increase of at-risk seniors,” he said.

Ottawa Community Housing is the city’s largest social housing provider, with 21 seniors buildings and 9,600 clients who are seniors.

Ottawa Community Housing is more than a landlord — it has to provide for tenants with special needs, said board chairman Coun. Mathieu Fleury. “If we demonstrate that it works with 42 units, it will be replicated.

 

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