Linking affordable housing with community McCauley Apartments provides security and support

McCauley Apartments is a success story. The building, located in the heart of McCauley, provides affordable housing and support for people facing mental illness and disability as well as those in need.

“I love living here. I would not change a thing,” said Chris Leclair, a resident of McCauley Apartments.

He moved to the apartments from Meadow’s Place group home 17 years ago, and has since built relationships.

“I have friends in the building and around the neighbourhood,” he said.

“McCauley Apartments offers subsidized housing for people who have mental illness and disability and would face obstacles to housing elsewhere,” explained David Prodan, community development manager with E4C, a not-for-profit organization that oversees the project.

But the apartments are not exclusive to people with mental illness.

“While many units are reserved for community members with a history of mental illness, one doesn’t have to have a mental illness to be eligible for this program,” stressed Prodan. “We maintain about two-thirds ratio of people with mental illness to one-third general affordable housing for anyone in need.”

McCauley Apartments, renting at 30 per cent of tenants’ income, integrates housing security with social and cultural programming—free of charge. Guitar lessons and Latin drumming are popular examples, as are skating and hockey lessons at the McCauley rink.

“McCauley Apartments is very successful in providing a safe, affordable, supportive environment for its residents,” said Prodan.

E4C, founded by four city churches in 1970, has a goal of alleviating and ultimately eliminating poverty in Edmonton. It now offers over 20 programs under four themes—housing, food security, education and skills development, and building connections—from a diverse base of organizations and partnerships. It works with Capital Region Housing to provide safe, affordable housing through its Affordable Housing, McCauley Community Group Homes, and McCauley Apartments programs.

McCauley Apartments provides two-bedroom apartments to eligible tenants. | David Prodan

Prodan noted McCauley Apartments differs from E4C’s other housing programs in that all tenants live independently, and E4C’s services, provided from an office in the building, are mostly focused on community engagement rather than tenant support.

“Our programs focus on creative paths to recreation and wellness … we offer free creative writing classes, drop-in soccer, mindfulness workshops, healing circles, and grief and loss groups,” he said. “We really want to provide opportunities for tenants to connect with their neighbours in meaningful ways, to reduce … isolation often associated with mental illness.”

He said while McCauley Apartments was founded in consultation with the neighbourhood as a mental health housing project that promotes interdependence, it also gives E4C a chance to add value to the community.

“We mainly connect with other community members and local organizations to get tenants involved and mobilized in local community programs and events,” said Prodan, noting tenants volunteer at Boyle McCauley News and Heart of the City Festival, among others.

This kind of engagement not only strengthens the neighbourhood, it also reduces stigmas around mental health, he said.

As food security is a key issue, tenants are encouraged to participate in the Wecan Food Basket Society.

“We also advocate for food security by connecting residents to community gardens and collective kitchens,” said Prodan, noting McCauley Apartments offers more than a physical space to live. “It’s all about building community by meeting people where they’re at … and grassroots activism that engages people in genuine relationship building.”

McCauley Apartments, which just celebrated its twentieth anniversary, provides two-bedroom units to eligible tenants. Call 780.424.2870 for more information or email dprodan@e4calberta.org

To find out more about E4C or to volunteer, phone 780.424.7543 or email info@e4calberta.org

Feature image: McCauley Apartments provides a safe, supportive, and affordable home for residents. | David Prodan

Kate Wilson

Kate took up the reporter's pad and pen while living in northern Alberta. The writing bug stuck, and the next 20 years were spent covering everything from local politics to community happenings. She lives in Alberta Avenue with her daughter.

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