Historic Stovel Block set to open as transitional home for women

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An historic building in the heart of Edmonton will soon be a transitional home for woman experiencing homelessness.

Stovel Block, near 97 Street and 103 Avenue, was bought by Gather Co. over a year ago and has been undergoing restorations. The second and third floor of the building will soon be open to women as a transitional home. The program will be run by Boyle Street Community Services and up to 30 women will be able to stay in the home anywhere between a few weeks to several years.

“It’s very important for the community and downtown Edmonton,” said Devin Pope, who, along with his father Kelly, is a partner at Gather Co. “We’re really fortunate to be able to provide a service that’s a need while maintaining the historic nature of the building.”

The Stovel block was built in the early 1900s and in 2019 it became a designated historic site by the City of Edmonton. A $645,000 grant was directed towards restoring the building. The transitional housing project itself received no public funds.

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Exterior of the Stovel Block building, 10327 97 St., in Edmonton Tuesday March 9, 2021. The building is to be re-opened as a flexible housing option for women experiencing homelessness. Stovel Block will provide supportive housing for around 30 women, with onsite staff to help the women as they transition to long-term housing. Photo by David BloomExterior of the Stovel Block building, 10327 97 St., in Edmonton Tuesday March 9, 2021. The building is to be re-opened as a flexible housing option for women experiencing homelessness. Stovel Block will provide supportive housing for around 30 women, with onsite staff to help the women as they transition to long-term housing. Photo by David Bloom Photo by David Bloom David Bloom /David Bloom/Postmedia

Jordan Reiniger, executive director of Boyle Street Community Services, said that it was thanks to the Popes as well as fundraising and donations that they will be able to operate the housing units without any government involvement.

“We’re able to do it and why we’re here really is because the experience that women and people who identify as women face on the street is really challenging,” said Reiniger. “It’s a very different experience than a man would face — the increased amount of abuse, the increased amount of harm that they’re exposed to.”

Expected to be open within the next few months, the project will allow women to move into the home without having to pay rent for the first month. After that they will be expected to pay on a monthly basis as they receive support for any issues they may be facing.

There will be Boyle Street workers on site to support the women as they move to long-term housing.

“They can move in, no barriers, and then we’ll work on the things like attaching the income and getting all the other support to make it more sustainable over time,” said Reiniger. “It’s private or semi-private, they have that sort of space to be able to move forward and think about, you know, what they need to do to sort of move forward in their life. And to get that support is really important.”

Jordan Reiniger, Executive Director Boyle Street Community Services, poses for a photo in a renovated suite at the Stovel Block building, 10327 97 St., in Edmonton Tuesday March 9, 2021. The building is to be re-opened as a flexible housing option for women experiencing homelessness. Stovel Block will provide supportive housing for around 30 women, with onsite staff to help the women as they transition to long-term housing. Photo by David BloomJordan Reiniger, Executive Director Boyle Street Community Services, poses for a photo in a renovated suite at the Stovel Block building, 10327 97 St., in Edmonton Tuesday March 9, 2021. The building is to be re-opened as a flexible housing option for women experiencing homelessness. Stovel Block will provide supportive housing for around 30 women, with onsite staff to help the women as they transition to long-term housing. Photo by David Bloom Photo by David Bloom David Bloom /David Bloom/Postmedia

Scott McKeen, city councillor for the area, said all the partners involved need to be applauded for getting the project up and running without any public funding.

“It costs way more money, way more tax dollars, to have people on the street than in supportive housing. Calls for service, emergency room visits, hospitalizations, cost way more money than putting somebody in supportive housing,” said McKeen. “I don’t know if the Popes knew that, before they did this. They just knew it was the right thing to do. So I just have to say I’m so deeply moved by the fact that a small business in Edmonton, if you will, stepped up to do their part.”

dshort@Postmedia.com

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