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Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

Mother, son 'really excited' to move into new four-plex

Mayor Shari Decter Hirst, Brandon East NDP MLA Drew Caldwell and Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Larry Maguire were on hand as Canadian Mental Health Association opened its newest four-plex inside The Dutchmill building at 1233 Rosser Ave. Natasha and her four-year-old son George, who will be moving into the building, were also on hand for the official ribbon-cutting.

LINDSEY ENNS/BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

Mayor Shari Decter Hirst, Brandon East NDP MLA Drew Caldwell and Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Larry Maguire were on hand as Canadian Mental Health Association opened its newest four-plex inside The Dutchmill building at 1233 Rosser Ave. Natasha and her four-year-old son George, who will be moving into the building, were also on hand for the official ribbon-cutting.

Christmas came a little early this year for Natasha and her four-year-old son George.

The single mother and her son will soon be settling into their new two-bedroom apartment inside The Dutchmill located at 1233 Rosser Ave.

The former vacant building was previously owned by Perth’s Drycleaners.

Natasha and her son were joined by more than 30 community officials and members yesterday for the grand opening and tour of Westman Canadian Mental Health Association’s newest four-plex.

The opening marks the fourth vacant building in downtown Brandon that has been restored by the organization to provide housing for lower-income families.

"We’re really excited," said Natasha, who declined to share her last name, while watching her son roam around their new apartment suite.

The four apartment suites inside the building were designed by drafting students at Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School and built by Brandon Community Builder volunteers.

With fresh paint on the walls and recently installed appliances still unused, their new home is a chance to start over for the 21-year-old mother. Natasha and her son moved to Brandon from Rossburn so they could both attend school.

She said she applied for affordable housing in the city through CMHA and will be attending classes at Neelin High School Off-Campus.

CMHA is now operating 55 affordable apartment units and nine emergency units in Brandon, all of which are full, according to CMHA regional director Glen Kruck.

"We could fill up 50 of these buildings tomorrow," Kruck said. "There’s so much that needs to be done in the city of Brandon and the biggest thing that’s holding us back is land."

According to Kruck, the emergency units are always full and he estimates they have to turn away 30 to 40 people each month.

The four new suites inside 1233 Rosser include two spacious two-bedroom units and two one-bedroom units. Rent including utilities for a two-bedroom is $630 and $530 for a one-bedroom.

"It’s a lot of work but it’s a beautiful building and it’s going to provide great housing for low-income families for a lot and a lot of years," Kruck said.

The housing project received $96,000 in funding from the Province of Manitoba and $163,700 from the federal government, Kruck said.

In conjunction with the Brandon Housing Coalition, Brandon’s Social Planning Council and the City of Brandon’s Task Force on Poverty, CMHA Westman serves to provide affordable shelter to community members. The affordable housing options provide a much-needed service as Brandon continues to burst at the seams.

Over the past decade, Brandon has experienced unprecedented change, with a population growth of 11 per cent, according to recent census data. The city projects that the population will grow at a rate of 1.5 per cent annually over the next five to 10 years.

Despite strong residential construction, the city has found it very difficult to maintain a rental vacancy rate that is above one per cent. A three per cent vacancy rate is considered a healthy rental market.

The last time Brandon experienced a healthy rental market was 1990, when the vacancy rate was 3.1 per cent.

According to Economic Development Brandon, there have been 2,900 new dwelling units added to the city over the past decade.

» lenns@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 17, 2013

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Christmas came a little early this year for Natasha and her four-year-old son George.

The single mother and her son will soon be settling into their new two-bedroom apartment inside The Dutchmill located at 1233 Rosser Ave.

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Christmas came a little early this year for Natasha and her four-year-old son George.

The single mother and her son will soon be settling into their new two-bedroom apartment inside The Dutchmill located at 1233 Rosser Ave.

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