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Raising the Roof and community partners build their way to over 150 housing units – so far

Leslie Bellingham, Director of Partnerships at Raising the Roof discusses building up the community as they build homes

A national homelessness prevention charity, Raising the Roof’s Reside program renovates vacant properties into homes for those experiencing or are at risk of homelessness.

Raising the Roof works with two local partners – Community Builders and Redwood Park Communities – who work together on each project. 

Social enterprise contractors and other partners complete the work on the project and the Construction Trainee Program is also set in place for people with barriers to employment to work in the trades. The partner, Community Builders, trains those with mental health issues, previous incarcerations and more, providing them with employment readiness work and hands-on trades training through workshops and real-life job sites. 

“We are responsible for the construction of the affordable housing units but our impact stretches farther than that,” says Brandon Day, Co-Founder and CEO of Community Builders, “We are also using this construction work as a vehicle to train and employ people with barriers to employment with a focus to get them job-ready and into full time, well-paying employment.” 

The Construction Trainee Program is designed as pre-employment training and focuses on giving its participants the tools they need to succeed.

“They are taught employment readiness skills and learn everything from demolition, framing, insulation, drywall, flooring, tiling, budgeting, meal planning, and more,” says Day,  “Most importantly, they get real on-the-job construction training in a supportive and supervised environment.”

The latest Reside project is renovating five units and constructing five brand-new units from scratch. “Overall in both Community Builders locations, we have renovated and created over 150 units of housing,” says Day.

“Once we’ve completed the homes, we work with local housing providers who know who is most in need in the community and can support them long-term,” says Leslie Bellingham, Director of Partnerships at Raising the Roof.

“Redwood Park Communities (RWPC) is our housing provider in Barrie. They have an existing bank of people looking for housing and are able to make connections for us and are able to provide long-term wraparound support to tenants of varying degrees, such as women fleeing from domestic violence,” says Bellingham, “People who were chronically living with complex needs have that base of safe affordable housing and a community of people to help them move forward in life.”

Raising the Roof continues to build its relationships in communities in the area and has a vision of working to ensure “all Canadians have access to a safe, stable home and the supports they need to achieve their potential.”

“We’re always looking for more innovative ways of evolving the Reside project, such as backyard suites and continually adding more units,” says Bellingham.

Those interested in donating to the Reside program from Raising the Roof or know of a vacant property in their neighbourhood or community that would be a perfect fit for a renovation project, more information can be found on the Raising the Roof website.

You can also support the Community Builders in the form of a monetary donation to purchase a bus pass, work boots and other essential items required by those in The Construction Trainee Program.