Before military Veteran Bill Beaton found a stable home, he spent two years in and out of homes and shelters, struggling to find a stable home.
At the start, Beaton was in a homeless shelter and was fortunate that he met with some people from Soldiers Helping Soldiers. They took him under his wing and introduced him to members of Veterans Canada. They were able to take Beaton out of the shelter and put him into a motel room for a couple of weeks until he could find a place of his own.
“Unfortunately for me, that place turned out to be a crack house, so I had to move again, and then COVID happened. Then the next place I lived in, the landlord decided to move his own family in there. So, I was out of a place again,” said Beaton.
Around the same time, he was introduced to Suzanne Li and Veterans House.
“Things have changed, and I’m finally starting to move forward,” he expressed.
Beaton is now a tenant at the Andy Carswell Building, Veterans’ House.
Veterans House Ottawa
It was announced earlier this year that $1.5 million will be put towards creating 40 homes for veterans who are experiencing or are at risk of experiencing homelessness in Ottawa.
Mayor Jim Watson stated that eliminating veteran homelessness is one of the City of Ottawa’s 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan targets.
About the Veterans’ House
The Andy Carswell Building, Veterans’ House, is located at 745 Mikinak Road, and the Multifaith Housing Initiative operates it.
“Supporting those in dire housing need is how we build equitable prosperity for all Canadians. Multifaith Housing Initiative’s Veterans’ House is more than just a safe and affordable place to call home; it is also accessible with on-site supports and will improve the quality of life for veterans in Ottawa – Vanier who have sacrificed so much for our country. This is what can be achieved when all levels of government work together,” said Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance.
The project will give veterans direct access to supports addressing mental health and addiction issues they are experiencing. Veterans can also access other amenities while staying in the home, like an indoor gym, communal kitchen, barbecue facilities, and a dog park for service dogs.
Suzanne Li, Executive Director, Multifaith Housing Initiative, says the Veterans’ House will give hope for a better future to 40 veterans who are living rough or who are at risk of becoming homeless. “In a concrete way, it says we recognize and thank them for their service to Canada,” she commented.
Enrolment at the House
At the time of the announcement enrolment in the house is currently slow because of COVID. Li says normally they would fill the building quite quickly, but because of all the health precautions that they need to take, it’s happening at a slower rate. “We’re about half full right now; we have about 20 people in the building. We have another 10 to 16 that are in the intake process with getting ready, scheduling move-in dates and making sure we’re spacing.”
Information for applying for a house is available on the website: multifaithhousing.ca, including applications. There are two applications that can be filled out with the help of the in-house mental health worker and housing manager, if necessary.
The Canada – Ontario Community Housing Initiative, a joint program by the federal and provincial governments, is directly putting funds into this project.
Although, $1.5 million in funding was announced earlier this year, the Ontario Government “previously announced $6.5 million in funding for Veterans’ House from the National Housing Co-Investment Fund (NHCF), a program of the National Housing Strategy (NHS),” according to a press release.
The City of Ottawa has also contributed $760,000 towards Veterans’ House.
Ahmed Hussen, former minister of families, children and social development, commented, “With our partners in the province and the city, we are providing a helping hand for individuals and families in need, and in doing so, we are contributing to the economic and social well-being of those who have fought for and defended this country. This is the National Housing Strategy at work.”
Commissionaires Ottawa is a major donor for the Veterans’ House project. Joining the veteran’s support group is just two of the many ways they are giving back to those who have served and their families.
“We have been eager supporters of the Multifaith Housing Initiative community and share their passion to make a difference in meaningful ways. We are doing everything we can to help protect and stabilize veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with safe, affordable housing, supportive services, and the dignity and respect they deserve,” said Capt. (N) Paul Guindon (Ret’d), CEO, Commissionaires Ottawa.
Lawrence MacAulay, minister of veterans affairs and associate minister of national defence, stated that he’s glad they can provide additional funding to help support Veterans in Ottawa who are in need. Lisa MacLeod, minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries and the Member of Provincial Parliament for Nepean, shared the same sentiments.
“Our $1.5 million joint investment has helped make this project a reality and improve the quality of life for veterans in Ottawa,” MacLeod noted.
The Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiative
“The Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiative (COCHI) provides funding to repair, regenerate and expand community housing so tenants can live in a home that is affordable,” stated the press release.
It can also be used to support community housing providers, whose original program arrangements are expiring, to become more sustainable.
COCHI is a program under the CMHC Ontario Bilateral Agreement. The agreement pours $5.75 billion to protect, renew and expand community housing; support Ontario’s priorities related to housing repair, construction and affordability; and deliver direct affordability support to Ontarians who need housing is provided as part of the 10-year agreement.
About the Multifaith Housing Initiative
Multifaith Housing Initiative (MHI) exists to build affordable housing that helps fix Ottawa’s housing crisis and provides at-risk people with secure, safe homes.
According to their website, they are “a coalition of faith groups, local businesses, civil society, the City of Ottawa and federal/provincial governments all working together to build and house communities. Their new way of working has created homes for more than 400 people.”
MHI is a not-for-profit charitable organization in Ottawa, Canada, established in 2002.