Grace Gardens Ready to Welcome 32 Residents
Amidst a jubilant atmosphere at Grace Gardens, the permanent supportive housing project by Stepping Stone celebrated its grand opening after years of planning, construction challenges, and setbacks. The project is situated at the former Parkview Motel, precisely at 721 Woolwich St., on the intersection of Woolwich and Marilyn Drive.
Gail Hoekstra, the executive director of Stepping Stone, expressed the tremendous effort invested in reaching this milestone. She emphasized that the journey ahead would require continuous hard work in the coming months and years, but it would be accompanied by moments of joy.
By the end of the month, 32 individuals experiencing homelessness will transition into their new bachelor-style rooms, which come furnished with a bed, kitchenettes, private bathrooms, and a sitting area. Among these rooms, four are designed to be accessible with wider doors, lower counters, and accessible bathrooms. Additionally, four rooms are considered barrier-free, offering more open space for individuals with walkers or those requiring additional room. One room even features automatic doors. In addition to the individual rooms, there are communal areas, both indoors and outdoors, a community kitchen, laundry services, and offices and consultation rooms for residents to meet with staff members.
An old motel is now 32 #SupportiveHousing units in #Guelph! We got 3 projects on the go to open this year alone! That’s what our community is about! Thanks @SteppingStoneGW for helping pull us together to find solutions to homelessness! Thanks to all involved! pic.twitter.com/gYZsvEA6CX— Mayor Cam Guthrie (@CamGuthrie) July 18, 2023
Hoekstra mentioned that staff members are assisting the residents in acquiring the necessary items to personalize their living spaces and make them feel like home. They are encouraged to decorate and furnish their rooms to their liking.
Beyond the initial move-in phase, the focus will shift towards developing individual care plans for each resident. This includes addressing mental health challenges, addiction struggles, medical issues, and other support requirements. Stepping Stone will collaborate with its partners to provide the necessary assistance.
Hoekstra emphasized that the tenants have the same rights as any other tenant in a rental unit, safeguarded under the Residential Tenancies Act. Support will be available 24/7 at Grace Gardens, ensuring residents can access assistance whenever needed. Tenants can stay for as long as they require, as the housing provided is permanent. However, if they are ready to move on, Stepping Stone will support their transition to the next phase of their lives.
Mayor Cam Guthrie acknowledged the severity of the homelessness situation, along with the challenges of addiction and mental health, stating that these housing units offer a vital solution. He expressed his support for the “housing first” approach and emphasized that Grace Gardens is precisely what the community needs.
The name “Grace Gardens” pays tribute to Grace Frank, a longstanding supporter who generously donated $600,000 towards the purchase of the property, which was acquired for $3.8 million in 2021. This housing project is one of three permanent supportive housing initiatives opening in Guelph this year. The Bellevue project by Wyndham House opened on Bellevue Street in May, and Kindle Communities is expected to open its project on Shelldale Crescent in the fall. Collectively, these three projects will provide housing for 72 individuals who have experienced homelessness in the past.