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Supportive housing residence to replace long-time Hamilton men’s shelter

Dena Fehir
Supportive housing residence to replace long-time Hamilton men’s shelter
MCL ARCHITECTS AND T. JOHNS CONSULTING GROUP - The 52-year-old Hamilton Good Shepherd men’s shelter on Mary Street is slated to be demolished with a new building taking its place.

COVID-19 was the tipping point for a 52-year-old Hamilton men’s shelter to embark on constructing a new building allowing residents more privacy.

“During COVID we learned that congregate living, i.e. living in a dormitory with other men was no longer accessible. The building is now over 50 years old and has limited handicap accessibility,” said Brother Richard MacPhee, chief executive officer of Good Shepherd, Hamilton.

“The organization decided to take a new approach to housing individuals who are homeless. That is giving our guests private suites with a kitchenette and a private bathroom.”

Plans are to raze the current 54-bed Mary Street shelter that was built in 1972 and create a 10-storey assistive housing residence with onsite support services. The objective is to have more men utilizing the facility to ultimately exit out of homeless living.

A local success story of this method can be compared to the Dorothy Day Centre that was opened by the Good Shepherd in May 2023.

The 73-unit supportive housing building for women, transgender and non-binary individuals on Arkledun Avenue catered to those staying at a temporary overflow shelter at the former Cathedral Boys’ school on Main Street East. After a year of operation, the majority of occupants have maintained residency.

The cost of the project, which was a renovation of an existing residence, was $25 million, funded by the city, the province and the federal government.

“The creation of Dorothy Day Place represents a dynamic collaboration between Good Shepherd and all three levels of government — a collaboration that will provide foundational support to members of our community who have experienced homelessness, trauma and social exclusion, often for many years,” said MacPhee in a news release.

The approximately $50 million construction plan for the new men’s building will provide housing and support services for its residents, including those with serious addiction and mental health issues.

It will have two floors of commercial, office space and meeting rooms.

This will include a reception area, a large dining room, medical clinic and spaces for social workers to meet with clients.

“We are still awaiting funding announcements by both the city, province and federal government.

“This project is now shovel-ready. We anticipate starting construction later this year or early 2025,” said MacPhee.

The architect is Michael McKnight of the Barrie-based firm of MCL Architects and a contractor has not yet been selected.

Next steps are acquiring outstanding building permits and a demolition permit.

The dollar amount the city will contribute is to be evaluated through a community-approach project funding stream that will consider what a project such as the Good Shepherd raze and rebuild will provide as solutions to those experiencing homelessness.

“The city recognizes the need for projects such as this to try to end chronic homelessness in our city,” said Michelle Baird, director with the City of Hamilton in the housing services division.

She also confirmed there are currently approximately 1,600 people in the city experiencing homelessness, with 280 living in 104 active encampment sites.

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