BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
Canadian Mental Health Association regional director Glen Kruck explains the benefits of the ground floor emergency shelter in the Massey Manor building project during a tour of the joint non-profit housing project on Monday.
The historic Massey Harris building is just months away from opening the doors to its first residential tenants.
A large two-bedroom suite is nearly completed on the second floor of Massey Manor. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
The former warehouse on the corner of Seventh Street and Pacific Avenue has been undergoing a $7-million transformation over the past three years, into a 58-unit affordable housing complex.
"It’s a beautiful, majestic building and with the three not-for-profits working together, we have saved it, and also with provincial and federal funding … without it, this building would not have happened," said Glen Kruck, Canadian Mental Health Association regional director.
The building, which has been officially named Massey Manor, is a project being undertaken through a unique partnership between the CMHA, the Brandon Friendship Centre and Habitat for Humanity. Construction began in 2009.
The CMHA will have 30 units on the first two floors, including five emergency homeless shelters that open directly onto Pacific Avenue. The CMHA will run the shelters and have an office located in the building.
The Brandon Friendship Centre has 14 rent-subsidized units, located on the third floor, while the fourth floor is Habitat for Humanity’s 14 condos.
"So in one building, you have total integrated housing — all the way from homelessness to home ownership on the top floor and everything in between," Kruck said.
Gail Cullen, Brandon Friendship Centre’s executive director, said all 14 units have families ready to move in.
"We’ve been taking applications since we bought the building," Cullen said.
"The sooner the better, because we’ve got people waiting that really need housing. Some of them actually don’t live anywhere, they’re couch-surfing."
Kruck said Massey Manor will help the Brandon housing situation, which is getting "desperately worse."
"This is a small drop in the bucket. It absolutely is. Even though it’s 58 units, man we could use hundreds of units right now," he said.
A mix of municipal, provincial and federal funding, along with mortgages held by each respective group, round out the project’s approximate $7-million budget.
Kruck said they are shooting for a July 1 opening date for both the CMHA and Brandon Friendship Centre units.
"We have the final inspections for the sprinkler system, the alarm system, the electrical system and the mechanical system," Kruck said. "We’re going through all those last phases right now."
The final elevator inspection is slated for next week.
The Habitat for Humanity units are planning for an Aug. 1 opening date.
Laminate flooring is down and cupboards are being installed.
Crews still need to install the toilets and the hot water tanks.
"Right now, we’re just waiting, but it’ll be very quick once this all happens," said Habitat for Humanity Brandon chair Harold Reid.
Alden Robertson of Habitat for Humanity has put out a plea for more volunteers.
"We really need some additional help, we can use people who have a little experience," Robertson said.
"We’ve got a lot of baseboards to paint and put down. We have everything from vacuuming, window cleaning … so a whole range of skills. Particularly if you have some carpentry skills we could sure use your help."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 15, 2012