London nurses assist inexpensive housing undertaking on previous hospital web site

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London nurses rally to raise $150,000 to support homeless people in London.

Abe Oudshoorn and Donna Fraleigh are co-chairs of Nurses For Housing, which hopes to raise $150,000 to help Indwell build affordable housing on the former South Street hospital site in London. (Derek Ruttan/The London Free Press)

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London nurses rally to raise $150,000 in support of homeless in London.

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The care community, including those at both major hospitals, wants to give $150,000 to housing agency Indwell, which creates “deeply affordable” units with support for renters.

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Indwell is building two residences on the site of the former Victoria Hospital on South Street which will create more than 130 living units. The former War Memorial Children’s Hospital will house some of these units and nurses want to support the accommodation a building where many began their careers, says a campaign manager.

Indwell is part of the Vision SoHo Alliance project, which has brought together six not-for-profit housing providers led by the London Community Foundation to build more than 680 units on the site.

“We care about people, that’s why we’re in healthcare, and we’re upset that they live the way they live,” said Donna Fraleigh, a retired registered nurse who also taught at Western University.

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“Housing is a health factor. When people don’t have a home, it’s very difficult to stay healthy. I made it very clear to Indwell that we want to make a connection with the Children’s War Memorial Hospital, where many students were studying pediatrics until it closed.”

Fraleigh, 86, reached out to Abe Oudshoorn, an associate professor at Western Nursing School and local housing advocate, to help with the fundraising effort. A campaign cabinet of nine, including nurses from the London Health Sciences Center and St Joseph’s Health Care London, has been set up and action will begin on Thursday, Oudshoorn said.

“Our goal is to reach as many nurses as possible. We are concerned about how visible poverty is. Housing is a key need for those we serve as nurses,” he said.

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  1. London's emergency doctors including Julie Kim, left, Bill McCauley and Amit Shah are donating $100,000 to Indwell, a charity creating 130 affordable housing units on the site of the former South Street Hospital in London.  McCauley said the donation honors the legacy of emergency work at the site and will help a population often treated by emergency physicians.  (Derek Ruttan/The London Free Press)

    EMS doctors honor legacy of old hospital with $100,000 affordable housing gift

  2. Homes Unlimited's Greg Playford talks about the Vision SoHo Alliance project, a 680-unit housing development - half of which is affordable - on the site of the former Victoria Hospital.  Construction is due to start in the coming weeks (MEGAN STACEY/The London Free Press)

    Everything you need to know about SoHo’s Affordable Housing Mega Plan

LHSC has more than 4,100 registered nurses and St. Joseph’s has more than 1,400. Many others work for clinics and healthcare providers across the city.

Fraleigh was inspired to start the fundraiser after the 75-strong London Emergency Medicine Associates, made up of emergency physicians, announced a $100,000 donation to Indwell’s Vision SoHo project in February, as they also saw the context between housing and patient care.

Fraleigh had also overheard Julie Ryan, Indwell’s community engagement coordinator, speaking to church groups about the agency and saw downtown homeless people sleeping.

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“I just thought, ‘Okay, I should do this,'” Fraleigh said.

Indwell offers supportive living, which means its residences have social workers, nursing staff, addiction counselors and food safety workers on site to work with residents who pay income-tested rents.

“These nurses are just amazing,” said Ryan. “It speaks to the importance of this country and these buildings. That gives people hope.”

Indwell has an apartment in London at Woodfield Gate on Dundas Street in the city center with 67 tenants. A second, Embassy Commons, recently opened and is home to 72 people.

Indwell has seen donations from the community mobilize contributions from governments of up to 10 times the amount originally donated. That means the $100,000 from ER doctors and $150,000 from nurses can generate $2.5 million in related funds.

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The federal government has supported Indwell and social housing. The Ontario government has not yet pledged support to the Vision SoHo Alliance. The city has pledged $13.2 million, Ryan said.

“Until we have stable housing, we will keep seeing patients,” Oudshoorn said. “This is about being part of the solution. It feels right.”

The campaign cabinet aims to raise the money within a year, aware that many nurses have had wage increases capped by the Ontario government.

“Nurses feel the financial pressure,” Oudshoorn said.

Oudshoorn, who became a nurse in 2004, has been teaching at Western since 2009. Fraleigh, who graduated in 1958, taught at Western from 1968 until her retirement in 2000.

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The total price of the Vision SoHo Alliance project is approximately $300 million. The site is now being prepared for construction.

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inhabit renovations

346 South Street: The former health building will house 96 units, a mix of one and two bedroom. All will be “deeply affordable,” with rents around $500 a month. It is scheduled to open in 2025.

392 Suedstr: The former children’s hospital will have 42 units, a mix of studios and one-bedrooms. All rent for about $500 a month. It is scheduled to open in 2024.

Other Developments

351 Hill Street: Homes Unlimited will build 93 units, mostly studios, but also 24 two-bedrooms and four three-bedrooms. It is scheduled to open in 2025.

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373 Hill Street: Chelsea Green Home Society will build 80 units, including 28 lofts, 29 one-bedroom units, 18 two-bedroom units and five three-bedroom units. It is scheduled to open in 2025.

385 Hill Street: The London Affordable Housing Foundation will build 75 units, a mix of one, two and three bedrooms. It is scheduled to open in 2025.

370 South Street: Zerin Development Corp. will build 118 units, a mix of one and two bedroom. It is scheduled to open in 2024.

124 Colborne Street: Residenza Affordable Housing (formerly Italian Seniors Project) will build Residenza Victoria, a 180-unit building. It will consist of a building with five to eleven floors.

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