Published on: July 14, 2021 by CBC News London

A new multi-residential apartment building is in the planning stages with the goal to provide safe housing for First Nation, Inuit and Métis people, according to the City of London.

The city’s Housing Development Corporation (HDC) is working with Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services (OAHS) on the project at 18 Elm Street in the area of Hamilton Road and Trafalgar Street to develop quality and appropriate accommodations. They say the focus is to address the housing needs of Indigenous women and children, families, and elders in London.

“Promoting great dignity for individuals and ensuring all Londoners have a safe and affordable home is the work of the entire community,” said London Mayor Ed Holder in a statement. “Partnerships like this one with Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services is a step forward in bringing supports and programs needed in our city.”

The building, which was formerly Holy Cross Elementary School, was purchased by the HDC with the intention of providing affordable housing, according to the city.

“OAHS is pleased to be working with HDC, the City, and will be engaging other local Indigenous organizations to bring this housing development, which will include some units dedicated to the Urban Indigenous Homeward Bound program, to the community,” said Cathy Connor, Director of Housing Development at OAHS in a statement.

“Homeward Bound is a program that helps young mothers and their families reach their goals toward education, career, and housing stability. With the success we have seen from Homeward Bound programs in Dryden and Sault Ste. Marie, this opportunity to expand is exciting and important.”

The city says amendments to London’s Official Plan and Zoning By-laws will have to be approved to allow for the apartment building and a small neighbourhood public park at the site. Pending approval from city council, construction is expected to start next year.

Londoners will have a chance to learn more about the project and share feedback at yet-to-be announced virtual town hall meeting.

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