For Abraham Kuol, living at WestEnd Commons – new apartments at the centre of the innovative redevelopment of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church – means everything is close at hand. His children’s daycare is just a few blocks away, as is the University of Winnipeg, where he studies conflict resolution. Plus, his church is under the same roof.
“Everything is easy. It’s all central,” says Kuol, a leader at Emmanuel Mission, one of five faith groups that share space in the building.
For Kuol and his wife, the apartment, located on St. Matthew’s at Maryland, also means more space for their family of five, along with a new, supportive community of neighbours.
In addition to 26 apartments (20 are subsidized), and atrium with an indoor playground, the facility continues to house a dozen community groups, including a busy Neighbourhood Resource Centre that provides a variety of programs to those in the area.
The project brings new life to the church, originally constructed in 1913 and in need of repairs beyond the scope of its declining congregations. It also helps address the serious shortage of affordable housing in the neighbourhood – particularly for newcomers, families, and those with accessibility and mental health challenges.
“We thought we should be able to create a model family housing project here, to create a collaborative community of hope, joy and strength in West Central Winnipeg,” says St. Matthew’s Anglican Church Reverend Cathy Campbell, who was instrumental in bringing the project to fruition.
After years of planning, WestEnd Commons opened its doors in November 2014 – a creative response to an important community issue and a comfortable place for families like Kuol’s to call home.