Newly opened Veterans' House receives additional $1.5M in government funds

Veteran's House in Ottawa received more funding from the Provincial and Federal government. Assignment 135522 Jean Levac/Ottawa Citizen ORG XMIT: 135522

A newly opened building in Ottawa providing affordable rental units and support services to homeless veterans received another $1.5 million from the upper governments on Friday.

Local federal cabinet minister Mona Fortier and Ontario cabinet minister Lisa MacLeod appeared at a virtual funding announcement for Veterans’ House with Mayor Jim Watson and Coun. Matthew Luloff, the army veteran who co-chairs a local veterans task force.

Also at the announcement was Bill Beaton, who was a corporal in the air force. He started moving into Veterans’ House at the end of February after falling in and out of homelessness over the past two years.

“Veterans House is a safety net for those willing to put their lives on the line for our country,” Beaton said, highlighting the theme of “teamwork” at the facility and drawing a parallel to the teamwork required in military life. He said he was grateful to have a home again.

Watson pointed out that a 2018 analysis of the homeless population in Ottawa discovered that five per cent, or 65 people, were military or RCMP veterans.

The not-for-profit Multifaith Housing Initiative runs Veterans’ House, which has been named the Andy Carswell Building, located at 745 Mikinak Rd. in the redeveloped lands of the former CFB Rockcliffe.

Suzanne Le, executive director of Multifaith Housing Initiative, said the building, a first of its kind in Canada, opened in February after an eight-year planning and construction period. Le said it’s a model that she anticipates will be replicated across the country.

Donations have also supported the creation of Veterans’ House. Le said government support is critical since the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the project’s fundraising campaign.

The 40 apartments are fully furnished and the facility has on-site mental health and addiction support services. Tenants can stay for as long as they need to.

Le said about half of the units were rented so far, with another 10-15 people going through the intake process.

The new funding comes from the Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiative.

The federal government previously provided $6.5 million for the $11.5-million Veterans’ House project. The feds also provided the land for the project and the municipal government has contributed $760,000.

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