Indwell: Hopes and Homes for All
Compassion Drives Staff Efforts to Support Community
One thing for sure is that the people at Indwell are compassionate and often come from a place of personal experience and advocating for those people with mental health and well-being issues. “We support those who are living in poverty, because of their state of mental health and well-being. It’s easy to see how somebody ends up living in poverty if they lose important family connections and their support systems due to their mental health issues – they really need our support”, explains Howe.
A recent survey from CAMH and Delvinia found that about one in five Canadians are reporting high levels of mental distress. Affordable housing is an investment in health and illness prevention. When a person has adequate housing they experience fewer health problems and are able to devote more of their income to adequately feed and clothe themselves and their per link to CMHA.
HOPA (Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority) provided funding for the mural on the top floor of the building, painted this fall by Hamilton artist, Lester Coloma.
Most Indwell tenants are single, with a median age in their forties, and both male and female. They may have had family, and some have children. For many who become homeless, they became estranged from family with little or no connection. “And so, we often find that, once people become stable in their own home, those relationships can begin to be restored. It’s a wonderful thing to hear about – someone having their kids over for a weekend afternoon. People feel proud of the home that they’re in.” says Howe.
Indwell is a Christian charity that creates affordable housing communities that support people seeking health, wellness and belonging. Indwell follows Christian principals like loving your neighbour, treating people with dignity, and holding hope for people. About 15% of operations and capital budgets come from donations. Most for-profit developers can’t make deeply affordable housing work. Indwell so values the donors, who are true partners in creating Indwell’s affordable housing.
North End Landing (Hamilton, ON) – a building owned by James North Baptist Church, 45 units of housing operated by Indwell. Indwell project managed the building. Largest mixed-use Passive House USA certified building in North America.
The definition of “affordable” in relation to housing has changed in recent years. Historically, it was generally understood that affordable housing was for people who really needed deeply affordable housing. Now we talk more about affordability in a much broader sense, which is also important. “My kids who are in their late 20’s and early 30’s don’t need deep affordability any more, but they do need something they can afford. That’s how the definition has changed. So, at Indwell we’re looking at how we define affordable with this changing meaning so that people really understand what we do. We’re leaning towards calling it supportive housing,” says Howe.
Howe believes that everybody does better when they have a community surrounding them as it is often what people have lost on their journey with their mental health. Indwell prioritizes community spaces in their buildings, often forfeiting one or two apartments to create that space. In community spaces, people learn about each other during coffee times and other activities., tenants discover each other’s strengths and can help each other. People start to build relationships and become friends, building natural supports.
Often volunteers help run socials like coffee time, games nights, art groups, etc. Karaoke is popular and usually a lot of fun. Building community is important to regaining a sense of belonging and connection.
During the intake process for new tenants Indwell seeks people who are committed to taking the steps to health, wellness and belonging. “We know that people who are willing to work on their health, whether it’s physical, mental, will have better chance of success,” states Howe.
Special Pet Project
Antique Royal Oak Dairy milk bottles, donated by community members, were fashioned into chandeliers that decorate the buildings.
This past summer, Indwell opened 108 apartments at the site of the former Royal Oak Dairy in Hamilton. They were able to save and retrofit the original carriage house and stable building – where delivery horses and wagons were once kept. Now this building is home for thirteen Indigenous tenants and offices for partner Sacajawea Non-Profit Housing. Two other buildings are new – all are built to the highly energy efficient Passive House standard.
Together We’re Better
Indwell has a number of community partners including: all levels of government provide capital funding, healthcare, Indigenous, philanthropic, and engineering partners like Nerva Energy, providing everything from expertise to donations.
Hospitals make referrals for housing, and support individuals as they transition home. CMHA and other agency partners also provide much needed support to Indwell tenants.
NRCAN provided a grant to help us study energy efficiency.
Energy Efficient Buildings with a Lower Carbon Footprint
St. Mark’s Place, Kitchener. Nerva Energy is providing HVAC Optimization to improve airflow and potentially reduce energy and carbon.
Indwell emphasizes energy efficiency in all of its buildings. In 2016, Indwell began building to the Passive House standard, a voluntary international certification that reduces a building’s ecological footprint. Passive House (German: Passivhaus) is a standard for energy efficiency that reduces a building’s ecological footprint. It is considered to be the most rigorous voluntary energy-based standard in the design and construction industry today. By implementing passive house standards, Indwell is able to significantly curtail greenhouse gas emissions while drastically reducing utility costs for tenants. Additional cost and carbon reduction are also available through the work that Nerva Energy provides through duct sealing. This cost-savings is passed down to tenants. For more info click here on Indwell Passive Houses.
How can you help?
Over the next four to eight weeks you can give the gift of hope as a Christmas gift. Visit www.Indwell.ca/donate