Hamilton housing project could be part of solution to homelessness crisis 

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Published June 1, 2023 at 4:09 pm

Anthony Urciuoli/hamilton.insauga.com photo
COURTESY TIM McKENNA

With homelessness increasingly affecting seniors, a Hamilton non-profit has a project it hopes can be a model to help solve the housing crisis.

Renée Wetselaar, executive director of St. Matthew’s House, said her organization’s 412 Barton housing project involves building 15 units for single people facing homelessness, aged 55 and over, prioritizing those who are Black or Indigenous. “When you look at the stats of people who experience homelessness, Black, Indigenous and racialized people are often highest on the list because of racism and other barriers,” she said.

The units are meant to be permanent housing that is “deeply affordable,” or the rent is geared to income, meaning rent won’t be more than 30 per cent of an individual’s household income. Half of the units will be for women. The organization hopes residents can move in by the spring 2024.

What makes the project unique is it’s an infill development using a modular building design that’s made off-site, allowing it to be more affordable to construct than large apartment towers, said Wetselaar. Each bachelor unit is about 350 square feet. It has its own kitchen, dining area and bathroom, and there’s a laundry room on each floor.  “It’s a unique style of housing that we hope can be replicated by others to help address the housing and homelessness crisis,” she said. “It’s not like a big tower. There are lots of opportunities for the city to do this.”

The charity needs to raise $300,000 for the project. So far, it has raised $7.8 million, said Wetselaar. Construction will start in the fall.

COURTESY TIM McKENNA

COURTESY TIM McKENNA

An Elvis fundraiser concert, “from ’68 to Aloha,” is being held at 8 tonight (June 1) with all proceeds going to St. Matthew’s House’s 412 Barton housing project. “Expect two different versions of Elvis from the ‘60s and ‘70s,” said Wetselaar. “People will have a lot of fun dancing.”

Tickets are $43.93 for balcony seats and $54.58 for floor seats (parking included). Tickets are still available. The fundraiser has sold more than 400 tickets.

The concert is at McIntyre Performing Arts Centre at Mohawk College (135 Fennell Avenue West).

Steve Michaels, a famous Elvis impersonator who has toured internationally, will be headlining the event pro bono. Michaels is touted as having shared the stage with Presley’s elite inner circle of musicians, including Joe Esposito, Presley’s best man, best friend and tour manager, who has escorted him on and off stage. 

COURTESY STEVE MICHAELS

COURTESY STEVE MICHAELS

 

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