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Families celebrate move from shelters

TORONTO, Ontario, March 21, 2005 — Twenty-four families celebrated the official opening of their home community today at the Trellis Gardens apartment building in the west end of the city — one of Toronto's first housing projects under the Let's Build program.

The three-storey, 27,000 square foot building was constructed on a half-acre of city-owned land. Rents for most of the units are no greater than the shelter component of welfare, or are set at below market rates. Amenities include programs and services for residents, a community garden and a children's play area.

Representatives of the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, the City of Toronto and Trellis Housing Initiatives — a partnership of the Congregation Darchei Noam Reconstructionist Synagogue and Out of the Cold — joined residents in the celebration, commemorating two years of success in which Trellis Gardens has established itself as part of the community.

"As the Member of Parliament for a riding in the heart of Canada's largest city, I am well aware of the seriousness of the homelessness problem," said the Honourable Joe Volpe, Minister Responsible for Ontario and the GTA, on behalf of the Honourable Joe Fontana, Minister of Labour and Housing. "That's why Trellis Gardens is such an inspiring example of a community's commitment to take action on homelessness."

"It gives me great pleasure to welcome to our city Trellis Gardens, Toronto's first affordable rental building assisting women and children," said Mike Colle, Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Eglinton-Lawrence. "I wish you all the best of luck and great success in the future."

"Trellis Gardens is an example of the City responding to the housing needs of our community. Here's a welcome addition to this neighbourhood," said Councillor Howard Moscoe, Ward 15 Eglinton-Lawrence, on behalf of Mayor David Miller.

"At Trellis Gardens, all our programming is tenant-driven and geared to helping people build community while maintaining housing," said Mark Thompson, Board Chair of Trellis Housing Initiatives. "In the two years we've been operating, we've kept our tenants housed and now you can see them flourishing."

The staff and volunteers of Out of the Cold have established contacts and strong working relationships with families in need. They provide a variety of support services for residents such as child care, job search, skills training, and assistance with parenting and finances.

Through the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative component of the National Homelessness Initiative, the Government of Canada has contributed to the success of Trellis Gardens by investing $650,000 in capital funding for transitional housing.

Through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's (CMHC) Canadian Centre for Public-Private Partnerships in Housing, a $55,000 Proposal Development Fund loan was provided. This is an interest-free loan to help housing proponents with the up-front expenses of developing a housing proposal, and CMHC also provided mortgage insurance. This is just a small part of the $690.2 million in assistance that the Government of Canada provides through CMHC primarily to support some 242,050 lower-income households in the province.

Let's Build, the City of Toronto's housing development program, assists community and commercial developers in building affordable housing. The combined contribution of a capital grant and waived development charges amounts to $1.1 million in funding from the City of Toronto.

Trellis Gardens is an example of a partnership among the public, private and non-profit sectors, one that benefits from private and corporate donors, and one that is financially self-sustaining without relying on ongoing operational subsidies.

The National Homelessness Initiative (NHI) assists governments and community organizations to come together and alleviate homelessness. By encouraging innovative and progressive cooperation, this approach is supporting long-term local solutions to address homelessness.

Media Contacts:

Rebecca Kingdon, Director
Toronto Homelessness Unit / National Homelessness Initiative
(416) 954-9397

Kathie Howes
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
(416) 218-3488

Cynthia Ross
Partnership Development
Shelter, Housing & Support Division
City of Toronto
(416) 392-0546

Mike Colle
MPP for Elginton-Lawrence
Constituency Office
(416) 781-2395

Mark Thompson
Trellis Housing Initiatives
(416) 203-7684