Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
December 7, 2009
No Room at the Inn seeks funds for Harry Holt Place
Housing society knows stable housing comes first
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - Harry Holt was living a normal life in Edmonton before an unfortunate incident led him to going on a disability pension. His low income meant affordable housing and other basic necessities were tough to come by.
Around that time, the Edmonton Inner City Housing Society built its first house for homeless and low-income people. Holt was its first resident. He lived there for more than 20 years until his death in 2006.
"We create long-term, permanent, stable housing for people," said Cam MacDonald, executive director of the Edmonton Inner City Housing Society. "Holt rose to the occasion when given the opportunity to help us in our development of new housing and provide input on tenant policy and administrative policy."
A good neighbour to people in his building, Holt is now the namesake of the society's newest housing venture.
Harry Holt Place is currently under construction at 8108-119 Ave. The facility will provide new, modestly sized, affordable units for homeless singles and four couples. The anticipated completion date is mid to late summer 2010.
This Christmas, at least 50 churches across Edmonton will raise funds to contribute to Harry Holt Place through No Room at the Inn.
No Room at the Inn, now in its 11th year, was launched by the Edmonton and District Council of Churches and the Quality of Life Commission to contribute to housing projects for the homeless.
The idea for the campaign is based on the story of Mary and Joseph seeking a place to stay in Bethlehem. Told there was no room for them at the inn, they took refuge in a stable until Jesus was born.
Since the annual appeal was launched, the campaign has raised anywhere from $25,000 to $55,000 per year, totalling $350,000 since its inception.
The Rev. Dr. Don Mayne, a retired United Church minister, a member of the No Room at the Inn committee, said every year funds are raised for a different project.
"Under the Housing First program, a lot of homeless people are being placed in apartments and they are provided with support services," said Mayne.
"You don't ask people to recover from their mental illness or stop drinking before you find them a place to live. "The biggest thing they need is a house."
About 3,000 people in Edmonton are homeless, with hundreds camping outdoors in the river valley.
No Room at the Inn began in 1999 and funded the Rotary Millennium House, a 25-unit apartment for low-income singles in housing need.
Two years ago, money went to the Rotary Centre for New Canadians, a Catholic Social Services project.
The mayor's 10-year plan to fight homelessness calls for 1,600 units that are modest-sized, but fully functional.
The private sector cannot build such units, as investors would not get any return, MacDonald said. "You need intervention in terms of funding."
Bob McKeon, director of social justice for the Edmonton Archdiocese, said that over the past two years awareness of homelessness has increased in the city and in Alberta.
In No Room at the Inn, each parish chooses whether to contribute. Some opt out, others give a portion of their Christmas Eve offerings and others give the full amount.
Virginia Sharek, the Ukrainian Catholic eparchy's ecumenical officer, said that most of the eparchy's social justice efforts go towards Ukraine, but this is one local project to which parishioners respond well.
"Since it's Christmastime, it's becoming more well-known and people plan on it as part of their Christmas donation."
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