An affordable housing project intended for people with mental illnesses, currently being built on 74-78 chemin Eardley, is expected to open sometime next spring. Spearheaded by the Centre Inter Section, the project includes the construction of two semi-attached four-storey residential buildings, boasting 20 and 12 one-room units respectively. “There will be 32 homes for 32 tenants,” said the Centre Inter Section’s Director General, Christyne Simard.
Titled Centre Inter Section Phase 2, it will also boast 24 parking spaces, a public patio and some green space. The units will be fully subsidized by the Socété d’Habitation du Québec (SHQ), making the cost of rent no more than 25 per cent of a resident’s annual salary. Chosen among a list of other locations, Simard said the selected property was best situated to provide housing in proximity to public and active transportation and commercial hubs. “You have access to everything,” Simard said. “It’s a fairly central neighbourhood. It’s important that people aren’t isolated.”
Potential tenants will consist of mentally stable people diagnosed with mental health issues who are in the recovery process, Simard said. “A lot of people struggle with anxiety and depression,” Simard said. “It’s mostly those kinds of traumatic mental health manifestations that we find. We’re now at 40 per cent of the population having some kind of mental illness.”
So far, 150 people have applied for housing in the 32-unit complex, Simard said noting that the Centre Inter Section will undergo a thorough interview process this September. She added that the majority of people who applied to live in the new apartments already reside in Aylmer. Noting that the project has been in the works for more than five years, Simard explained that it was highly demanded in the area because its housing prices were relatively high compared to other neighbourhoods in the sector.
Pointing to a study conducted in 2010, Simard said that the diversity of housing for single people with mental illnesses in the city has been severely lacking. Planning to integrate a new Centre Inter Section office in one of the buildings, the new apartments will also offer its residents mental health services administered by professionals. Costing approximately $6 million, the city of Gatineau and the Centre Inter Section will each provide 15 per cent of the funding. Held back for six months because of Covid-19, Simard is convinced that the project’s construction cost will see an adjustment before its completion.
With shovels first hitting the ground last September, Simard is hopeful that the Centre Inter Section Phase 2 will see the light of day in March of 2021. With Gatineau technical resource group, Le Rohsco overseeing the construction process, the project’s developer is Aylmer-based company GMR Construction with Karine Boivin from A4 Architecture + Design as the architect. The project is part of the third phase of the SHQ’s Accès Logis Program, Simard said.