Prayer and learning lead to action on affordable housing in Ottawa’s west end
In honour of National Housing Day, the Anglican Foundation of Canada (AFC) is sharing some of the story of Hollyer House, a housing partnership initiative between Christ Church Bells Corners, the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa, the City of Ottawa’s Action Ottawa program and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Tracing the origin of the project back to the 2013 Joint Assembly Declaration, which committed the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada to engage issues of homelessness and affordable housing, the Ven. Katherine Otley explains that the people of Christ Church Bells Corners decided, “we would pray, we would teach, but we would also take action.”
A decade later, and with more construction experience than she ever imagined, Archdeacon Otley says the four-story, 35-unit mixed use apartment building in Ottawa’s west end is nearly ready for occupancy. “Hollyer house is named in honor of John Hollyer, a parishioner who would routinely take people off the streets and give them what he called a hand up,” says Otley. “It didn’t always work but that never stopped him trying.” Hollyer left his estate to the church, and his gift funded the feasibility study that set the church on a path to a major redevelopment of the site of its underutilized rectory.
Otley says that while 55-75 tenants will directly benefit from new housing, she estimates that, monthly, more than 1000 community members will be helped by Hollyer House’s ground-floor Resource center. This includes an estimated 300 for the food bank alone. “The impact of the project as a whole—and the food cupboard accessibility ramp funded by the Anglican Foundation of Canada—will benefit hundreds of people every year.”