Anglican Diocese of Ottawa creates affordable housing in Bells Corners, eyeing other church sites

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Hollyer House, as the four-story mixed-use building has been named, will house 35 residential units.

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It’s the kind of residential intensification that people are lining up to celebrate and that Ottawans in need of affordable housing outside the downtown core are desperate for.

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At a site in Bells Corners that once housed a two-story rectory, politicians and representatives of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa gathered Monday to celebrate the impending completion of an affordable housing project.

Hollyer House, as the four-story mixed-use building has been named, will house 35 residential units, as well as a community hall, supply cabinet and operational space for the West Ottawa Community Resource Centre, which had offices in the presbytery before its demolition.

Ten of the rental units will be reserved for women leaving shelter with local providers Cornerstone and Chrysalis House. The rest will be below-market-rent housing for those on the city’s waiting list for social housing — including, potentially, some dedicated housing for families coming out of emergency shelter — and mid-market rental units, for which applications are expected. to open for this summer.

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“There is diversity, in many ways,” said the Most Reverend Shane Parker, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa, of the community that co-ed projects like this aim to create.

Project partner Christ Church Bells Corners is located next to the development, and its rector, the Venerable Kathryn Otley, said her parishioners are “really thrilled that people are moving in and what they can do to support them.” .

Religious affiliation will not affect who is eligible to live at Hollyer House, she said, and the selection of tenants will be independent. But given the level of demand for affordable housing, especially outside the city centre, there will be many people Hollyer House cannot help.

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“I’ve been answering calls for two years…hundreds of calls from desperate people,” Otley said.

Although the planned completion of the project this fall meets only a fraction of the need, it is part of a larger movement by faith groups in Canada to transform or expand their real estate assets to create affordable housing.

The Reverend Canon PJ Hobbs, general manager of community ministries for the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa, said they are currently considering an affordable housing project on the grounds of the Julian of Norwich Anglican Church on Merivale Road in partnership with the Multi-Faith Housing Initiative, as well as doubling the number of units at Ellwood House in Alta Vista.

In Monday’s announcement, which highlighted federal and municipal financial support for the Hollyer House project, Housing Minister Ahmed Hussen said he had told more faith-based organizations “there is a place for you in the National Housing Strategy if you want to partner with us to leverage a lot of the real estate you own and turn it into affordable housing.

He is, however, facing pressure to bring more dollars that do not require repayment to this partnership.

Part of the more than $6.6 million federal investment in Hollyer House is a forgivable loan. Funding like this is invaluable for affordable housing developments by nonprofit entities, Parker said.

“Loans are problematic because you kind of have to factor that into the overall calculation. … Grants are what we need.

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