Co-housing apartments on Elmira’s McGuire Lane have doubled up, with construction completed on the second of three buildings and tenants moving in.

The apartments were built by the Elmira Developmental Support Corporation and Elmira District Community Living, but it wasn’t easy getting them paid for. Greg Bechard, executive director of EDCL and CEO of EDSC, says at one point, they were more than $700,000 short, that is until local businesses came to the rescue.

“This building, we got sponsorship for three of the seven units from the Region of Waterloo, so we received $300,000 and the cost of the building is slightly over $1 million,” he said. “That was our challenge at the outset. As a board, we decided to go ahead, but we knew we had to raise a lot of money. It was a real leap of faith for us.”

Several companies came to the aid of EDCL and EDSC, including Toyota Canada to the tune of $100,000 and the Cowan Foundation with $50,000.

“It was a huge effort. There are other affordable housing projects that are fundraising in Elmira, too, so we had to look outside of the Elmira community as well as inside it,” said Bechard.

The two apartment buildings are considered to be accessible housing, and have a couple of different types of tenants. 

“The mission is to create affordable housing for people with intellectual disabilities and parallel housing for people who are interested in providing supportive relationships,” said Bechard, adding that the project fills a gap in accessible housing in the township. 

Representatives from Toyota and EDCL met at the 45 McGuire Lane building to take a tour of the newly opened apartment building. Toyota Canada donated $100,000 to construction. [Liz Bevan / The Observer]

The support tenants, who in the past have been students, live in the buildings for less expensive rent, and lend a helping hand in creating a sense of community with their neighbours. It helps the residents with intellectual disabilities maintain independence, with a strong support system around them.

The plans are in place for a third section of the apartment complex, but Bechard says nothing is set in stone quite yet, but the third building will be completed eventually. 

“We met our goal, and now, we even have a small amount of money left to go towards the next build. Now, we have just submitted a proposal to the region – they are looking for more affordable housing projects for 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 – and we will find out on Apr. 25 if we have been recommended for the third building,” he said. “If we don’t get approved there for that funding, then we will just have to regroup and try and figure out how we get the next building built, whether we wait and try again, or continue fundraising.”

To learn more about the affordable housing project from EDCL and EDSC, visit www.elmiradcl.com.

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