The historic Town and Country Hotel in Calgary’s southeast holds a lot of nostalgia. The iconic landmark has many reminders of times gone by, but it was also a symbol of a shameful past, a place of violence and crime.
Jacquie Meyer works with women in crisis, those who work in the sex trade and who are exploited.
“There were murders and rapes and it was a dark place,” said Meyers. But that infamous reputation inspired a transformation. The slogan is to bring it from “infamous to glorious”.
The Victory Foundation bought the building a few years ago. The Calgary organization that works with vulnerable people is working to resurrect the now-defunct T&V to house women, children and seniors.
“To see what it’s going to be, it brings light to the dark parts of the city,” Meyers said.
“It was known as a broken postcode and it was going to be reclaimed.”
“It’s survival for many of the women and there aren’t many support services. There is a lack of affordable housing for these individuals — so it’s unbelievable,” Meyers said.
As the half century old building’s dramatic change, so will the lives of the people who live in the 48 units.
Kyle Jeffery is a pastor with Victory Outreach and said the programming will support those in need by surrounding them with a loving community.
“We provide a sense of dignity and a sense of home and a sense of value. If you don’t have that, it’s hard to make progress,” Jeffery said. “When you stumble and fail and don’t have someone there to say: ‘I believe in you.’ Many of these people have no family.”
“It is full of possibilities and hope.”
According to Victory Foundation’s director of housing, Matt Bannerman, the need for this affordable housing complex has never been greater.
“We get easily 30 or 40 calls every month for people looking for housing and we have no room for them and haven’t had any movement for women’s housing in over a year,” Bannerman said.
“There are 4,000 people on a waiting list for affordable housing, we have 150,000 people who are below the poverty line in Calgary.”
The plan is to be sustainable without the need for ongoing funding. Don Delaney, the executive director of Victory Foundation said they are going to rent out space in the complex.
“If we want to help people become self-sufficient, we have to be. In this building we will have retail and the retail rent will offset rent for residents here to make it affordable,” said Delaney.
They are just over halfway to their fundraising goal of $11 million.
“We have $4.8 million to go and we’re in the process of trying for another $2 million state grant,” Delaney said.
The hope is that residents will be able to move next October.
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