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Group tries to revive former subsidized apartment complex in NDG


A group of community activists in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG) is trying to revive a former subsidized apartment complex on Cavendish Boulevard near Sherbrooke Street.

It's been four years since tenants were forced out of the building at 3880 Cavendish Blvd. because of persistent heating and mould problems.

Project Chance was a social housing project dedicated to single mothers trying to finish school so that they could re-enter the job market.

It had worked wonders for Nissoo Chung, a South Korean single mother who managed to graduate from university with a business degree because of Project Chance.

"I don't think I could have done without it, more so because I didn't have a family network, I didn't know anybody," she said.

But four years ago, the Project Chance building was forced to close. The heat didn't work, which led to burst pipes, making it unliveable. A dozen single mothers lost their subsidized apartments overnight. Despite promises to fix the building, it has remained abandoned since.

"There are no means for us to restart any of these projects; there's no money. And to get anything going, the first starting point is the money," said Halah Al-Ubaidi, director of NDG Community Council.

The Liberal member of the National Assembly for NDG, Desiree McGraw, is launching a task force to reopen Project Chance. NDG, she says, is family-friendly but also suffers from a severe shortage of affordable housing.

"It was a great model, Project Chance. Young women, single parents, allow them to pursue their education, and then morph into other housing once they graduated," said McGraw, "so it's investing in women, in children, in communities."

The problem is that Quebec already has 37,000 families on a waiting list for subsidized housing, and provincial budgets only fund a few thousand new ones yearly. The Liberal opposition says the CAQ government did not live up to its promise to invest in aging social housing buildings, according to Virginie Dufour, the Liberal critic for municipal affairs and housing.

Three years later, a renovation program still needs to be in place. Other housing projects in NDG do provide apartments for single mothers but they're not sufficient. Those lucky enough to find one say they would have nowhere else to go otherwise.

"We'd probably end up having to live with my parents because, with two kids, I couldn't afford an apartment on my own," said Ariel Haggerty, a mother of two.

And yet, despite the shortage, the building continues to sit empty, waiting for repairs while single mothers struggle to find a roof. Top Stories

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