Phase One renovations to transform the second of two Traveller's Inns that the City purchased, into supportive Aboriginal housing are now complete as of June, 2013 and the first tenants have moved in.
The City has been working with the Victoria Native Friendship Centre to develop housing for Aboriginal single young adults (19-25) who are working and/or in school and for young Aboriginal families or Aboriginal grandparents raising grandchildren. Siem Lelum is Salish for Respected House and reflects the vision to develop a safe, affordable, supported and holistic “urban village” where life-long skills and a healthy lifestyle will be modeled, and necessary resources will be provided.
Phase One renovations began in early 2013 and involved renovating the existing building on the east side of the property to create 26 permanent apartments. Through these renovations, 14 studios apartments, three one bedroom apartments and nine small family apartments have been created.
The majority of the tenants are young families - moms and dads together with a small child, expecting parents, moms with their children, dads with their children and a grandmother. The Victoria Native Friendship Centre is processing applicants for the smaller studio suites.
Each freshly painted apartment includes a fridge, stove, shower or bath and cabinets. All apartments include water and energy savings feature such as low flow sink and bathroom faucets and shower heads, and new light fixtures. All new appliances are Energy Star rated, and low VOC, long-lasting marmoleum flooring was used.
Rents range from $425 for a studio apartment (single occupancy), to $525 for a one bedroom apartment (1-2 people), to $620 for a family suite. All residents must commit to making positive change in their lives and must demonstrate consistent progress towards personal and economic self-sufficiency goals. Siem Lelum is a dry, drug-free, non-smoking property.
Aboriginal people are significantly over-represented in the homeless population. Within the Capital Region only 2.8% of the population is Aboriginal, but they make up 25% of the homeless population.
This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada's Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) - Aboriginal Homelessness funding, the Capital Regional District's Housing Trust Fund, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the City of Victoria.
The Victoria Native Friendship Centre will update the community on plans for Phase 2 later this year.
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