Monday, January 25, 2010

Anglican housing project in Ottawa gets big boost from Catholic nuns

A major donation from an order of Roman Catholic nuns has put a diocese of Ottawa ministry much closer to its goal of building a supportive housing facility for 42 women in need.

The Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Pembroke donated $1 million to Cornerstone’s housing project.

Sue Garvey, director of Cornerstone, thanked and praised the Grey Sisters for their ongoing support and generosity toward Cornerstone.

The relationship first began when Cornerstone was interested in buying a residence owned by the sisters but could not get enough funding, she said.

Since that time, the sisters have given donations regularly and donated to help Cornerstone cope with a crisis in November when a fire damaged one of its facilities, killing one resident.

The Grey Sisters “really have been just wonderful all along,” says Garvey. “They have encouraged us to keep going and said that they want to help us when the time comes, and so now is the time,” she added.

“We are delighted to be able to support the wonderful work of Cornerstone and to be part of the building of safe, dignified housing for women who are in need,"wrote Fay Edmonds, general superior of the Grey Sisters, wrote in a letter affirming the donation.

The order was founded in the mid-1700s by Marguerite d'Youville, a woman who fought for the rights of the poor.

The new building is “seniors’ housing, its housing for women with disabilities, and it’s going to meet a really big need in the community. It’s going to be a beautiful place,” said Garvey. The plans call for an energy efficient building with gardens and green space.

The total cost is projected to be $11.5 million. So far, $6.3 million has come from the Ontario government’s affordable housing program (which includes extra infrastructure money from the federal government), says Garvey.

The federal government contributed $2.1 million from its homelessness partnership initiative.

The city of Ottawa also contributed rebates and tax waivers to bring the total contributions from all three levels of government to $9.5 million.

Cornerstone launched its capital campaign to raise the remaining $2 million.

The Grey Sisters’ donation gives the campaign a “really strong footing,” says Garvey, adding that about $1.4 million has now been raised.

One of the ways Cornerstone intends to raise the remaining funds is by asking churches to “adopt a room.”

For $5,500, a church could furnish one of the apartments and pay for some of its construction.

Construction of the new residence will start at the end of March 2010 and apartments will be ready by April 2011.

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