(The new Veterans’ House located on the former CFB Rockcliffe Airbase property. Photos: Submitted by SUC.)
Stittsville United Church (SUC) joined The Multifaith Housing Initiative (MHI) campaign, United We Stand, this year. The campaign’s goal is to raise funds to go towards the construction of Veterans’ House: the Andy Carswell Building.
The total cost of construction of the building is $11.5 million. The federal government committed $6.5 million to the project, and the City of Ottawa provided contributions worth $730,000. Through their capital campaign, MHI has committed to raising the remaining $5 million.
Veterans’ House is MHI’s fifth affordable housing project, and its first project dedicated to housing veterans. The facility will provide supportive housing for 40 veterans who are otherwise homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
Located on Mikinak Road on the site of the former CFB Rockcliffe Airbase Lands, the site will offer mental health and addiction services, a communal kitchen and outdoor barbecue facilities, an indoor gym, and a dog park for service dogs. The building itself will include three floors of living space, one floor of communal space, and a basement for administrative purposes. Tenants began gradually moving into Veterans’ House on February 1, 2021.
This project aims to target the needs of the rising number of homeless veterans and to provide essential on-site rehabilitation services in addition to safe housing. Set to be Canada’s first permanent long-term community house for homeless veterans, the MHI’s goal is to replicate their model across Canada to best serve the needs of homeless veterans nationwide.
United We Stand is a campaign for the United Church of Canada’s Eastern Ontario Outaouais Regional Council (EOORC) to raise funds for Veterans’ House. The campaign ends in June 2021. Commissionaires Ottawa will double all donations, up to $150,000.
Stittsville’s United Church chose to raise funds for Veterans’ House through their 2021 Lenten Project. Ruth Richardson provided cans, to be filled with coins, to members of the community. She also provided wraps for the cans, which could be decorated with stickers. Ruth was pleased to see the many unique ways children decorated these cans. Between donated pocket change and cheques of larger sums, SUC was able to contribute over $3000 to United We Stand through the Lenten Project.
Approximately 80 groups of various faiths are members of MHI, with SUC among these members. While the church has been involved with the initiative in the past, Veterans’ House is the first big project the Stittsville parish has taken part in.
The project particularly appealed to SUC as they were involved with starting the first choir of military wives in Canada. Additionally, with lots of military families living in Stittsville and attending the church, Ruth believes that “this one just seemed to fall into our laps” when it came to contributing to fundraising. Ruth points out that United Church is a liberal Christian church, which she recognizes is a good place for military members to find community. As such, SUC has a good relationship with military families.