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New affordable family housing project opens up in Seton

A 45-unit affordable townhouse complex was officially opened Wednesday, already ¾ full with the rest to be fully occupied within weeks.  

The Norris House, owned and operated by the Calgary non-profit HomeSpace Society, has 45 stacked townhome units in the southeast Calgary community of Seton, near the South Health Campus.

It’s the 20th of 21 projects delivered by the Resolve campaign, a $75 million effort driven by Calgary homebuilders back in 2012 to create more affordable projects in Calgary neighbourhoods.  To date, the projects they’ve funded have helped create homes for more than 2,100 families.

The Norris House, a $15.6 million project funded by Resolve, the Government of Canada, and the City of Calgary, will have 29 three-bedroom units, 11 two-bedroom units, and five one-bedroom units, with 14 of the units being barrier-free.  Social support for the residents is provided by the Calgary non-profit Closer to Home.  The building’s capacity is 200 people.

HomeSpace CEO Bernadette Majdel said this project is a terrific example of what happens when partners – private and public – work together.

“I think it’s a really good example of what does happen when there’s collaboration,” Majdel said.

“I think it also is a bigger message. It takes more than one group, one individual, one level of government to make things happen.”

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said this was a chance for 45 families to live with dignity in the city, at a time when affordability is difficult. She said it offers many vulnerable families the chance to start fresh.

Mayor Gondek said the collaboration seen through the Resolve campaign shows that different groups can work together to help with the Calgary housing crisis.

“This is how you get it right. This is how you do good things for people,” she said.

Lots of issues for Canadians to afford housing: Alan Norris

Alan Norris, the building’s namesake and the executive chairman of Brookfield Properties, one of the private homebuilding organizations that have driven the Resolve campaign, said that there are many challenges with respect to what should be done to create more affordable housing.

“I will say that we fought through many pros and cons and pluses and minuses through the Resolve campaign,” he said.

“But I do believe the private sector, and three levels of government, all agree on the housing first philosophy, and going forward, a lot of really good things happen.”

He said further that there are a lot of other issues that need to be addressed in order for Canadians – and Calgarians – to have affordable homes.

“Hopefully we do the right things,” he said.

Karen Olivier, CEO of the Closer to Home Community Services, who will be providing social support to the families, said these homes are much more than a structure to the people living in them.

“They represent a fresh start, a safe home and an opportunity for families to bond, learn and grow together,” she said.

“It’s also an opportunity to live in a supportive community and to create friendships that will last long after families live here at Norris House.

Olivier said that families will have parenting programs, cultural support, a family resource centre, and gain access to life skills. She said inside the walls of the homes will be stories of resilience and determination.

“I can say with absolute certainty that Norris House will make an incredible and positive social impact in the lives of hundreds of children and families,” she said.

Photos: The homes’ interior

The kitchen suite in the new Norris House affordable housing complex in the community of Seton. DARREN KRAUSE / LIVEWIRE CALGARY
The master bedroom suite in the new Norris House affordable housing complex in the community of Seton. DARREN KRAUSE / LIVEWIRE CALGARY
One of the bedrooms in the new Norris House affordable housing complex in the community of Seton. DARREN KRAUSE / LIVEWIRE CALGARY