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LIFE*SPIN Community Housing Initative

 

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Jacqueline and Patricia on the back steps of the LIFE*SPIN Housing Initiative

Background:

In 1997,Margaret-- homeless and a psychiatric consumer/survivor-- contacted LIFE*SPIN. She had fallen through the cracks of our social systems and landed on the street. She wanted an affordable, independent living situation that both respected her autonomy and supported her needs. LIFE*SPIN staff helped Margaret with her immediate situation by finding a series of short-term options and, in doing so, recognized the gaps in long-term solutions to homelessness in London.Thus, LIFE*SPIN began to develop a community-based permanent housing option to provide safe, attractive, supportive and affordable accomodation for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Donations and hands-on support from our community enabled LIFE*SPIN to purchase a building to provide some of these needed homes.

2010 marked the tenth year of ownership of the property, located at 864 to 872 Dundas Street and 417 to 423 Ontario Street.  LIFE*SPIN purchased the property in 2000.  Meeting the housing needs in our community inherently involves dedicated neighbourhood improvement and development of the physical location.  In addition to the ongoing and extensive interior renovations, we have installed new windows and doors, upgraded the plumbing and electrical services, repaired the masonry, built new decks and fire escapes and installed a new roof.  The storm-water from the roof is directed into the garden located on the north side of the property, where a derelict house once stood empty.  The goal is a self-sustaining housing initiative that offers safe, attractive, permanent housing for low-income Londoners. 

We offer our heartfelt gratitude to the Board and staff of the Canadian Alternative Investment Cooperative for their ongoing support and faith in our work.

The LIFE*SPIN CED Housing Initiative is comprised of five commercial units, five one-bedroom units, two bachelor apartments and three two-bedroom units.  This sustainable housing initiative has become an epicentre of community and neighbourhood development that benefits the whole area.  We provide below market rents to an extraordinary array of individuals, with unique support needs.  Many of the tenants have become active leaders in the community improvement endeavours, and many utilize the community initiatives

The major renovations of the LIFE*SPIN property are almost complete.  We are currently working towards greater energy efficiency.  We are happy to share that Trillium, RBC Foundation, and Benjamin Moore have provided a grant to help make this work possible. LIFE*SPIN has installed solar panels across the entire roof area and are currently working to restore the facade of the Dundas street-level, including the installation of low-e glass windows.  We are seeking financial sponsorship to complete this work.

Over the past few years we have also made renovation that make the building more accessible, including pathways in the Old East Common, to accommodate wheelchairs, walkers, scooters and strollers.  These pathways are made from recycled rubber that is water permeable and can better withstand the changes in our temperate zone.

The commercial units are leased to entrepreneurs for five-year terms.  As the Housing Initiative becomes more sustainable, we are able to offer more space to community resources.  Initially, LIFE*SPIN occupied the unit at 866 Dundas.  Building our sustainability has allowed us to dedicate additional commercial space to house the "Living Room" for a Community Resource Centre in our neighbourhood, the Free Store and the Old East Common.  The Living Room is now adjoined to LIFE*SPIN.  Our vision was to create a welcoming and fully accessible Community Resource Centre in this space, to provide programming and meeting space for seniors, children, families, art and recreational programming. 

The housing units continue to be rented at full capacity.  While there is often a wait list of people in need of the below-market rates, we take time and care between tenants to ensure the units are clean and in an excellent state of repair.  We believe these homes should be beautiful comfortable spaces to raise a family or get back on your feet, between jobs or due to physical and/or mental health challenges.

Foremost, this housing initiative seeks to provide attractive, permanent, supportive, safe and affordable accommodation for London residents who are homeless or who are at risk of homelessness. LIFE*SPIN continues to work to establish a foundation of appropriate supports, which are empowering and build a sense of security, safety and community for the individuals and families residing in the ten residential units that comprise this housing initiative.

Building Community Foundations for Self-Reliance

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