Reviving Winnipeg’s single room occupancy buildings model
LIFT is a project of Equal Housing Initiative, a not-for-profit seeking to revive the city’s single room occupancy sector (SRO), starting with the McLaren Hotel, a 150-unit building in the heart of Winnipeg.
The LIFT initiative is committed to involving tenants in the process, so that social benefits can be observed, and that is what sets this initiative apart. Various academic partners, including two universities and two colleges, are involved. Students in social work and psychology will help educate and raise awareness of evictions through student placement programs. Beyond the impact on the lives of the building’s residents, the knowledge-sharing resulting from the collaboration between community and academic partners will be positive for the community, making the initiative an important first step towards establishing a structurally supported model of SROs that meets the needs of tenants in Winnipeg.
Approximately 5,000 individuals across the city live in deteriorating housing that is in urgent need of renovation. This situation poses severe risks to their physical and mental health.
The project aims to:
- Minimize the risk of eviction, given that renovations are often the source of eviction, and that this building has an annual eviction rate of 25%;
- Support a particularly vulnerable population: 98% have incomes below the Winnipeg wage average. 45% of tenants identify themselves as Aboriginal, and over a quarter (28%) are seniors;
- To improve living conditions for occupants, helping them to take control of their daily lives;
- Serve as a model for permanent housing in Winnipeg (as opposed to the substantial number of transitional housing units on the market).