New Affordable Housing Opens in Ontario

Last week, the doors were officially opened at the newly renovated Hambleton Hall in Simcoe, Ont. Members of Simcoe’s Immanuel Christian Reformed Church have been busy assembling furniture and moving tenants into their new home.

With 35 permanent units and five transitional units, including eight barrier-free units with lift system supports, this is Indwell’s latest affordable housing development. Indwell, formerly Homestead Christian Homes, provides supportive housing in Hamilton, Woodstock, and now Simcoe with 24-hour on-site services and independent apartments with community support. Hambleton Hall is the third project completed by Indwell this year.

“It’s been a time of unprecedented growth, but equally unprecedented need, which we see in more applications than ever before,” said Teresa Howe, community engagement manager at Indwell. 
Two years ago, Hambleton Hall was just an idea brought forward by Immanuel CRC and other area churches.

“As a church, we participated in a multi-church community opportunity scan that highlighted the need for affordable housing in Simcoe.” said Jeff Vandermeer, pastor at Immanuel CRC. The church connected with Indwell, and in that same week, Simcoe’s social housing service also contacted Indwell. “That week served as a catalyst to the entire project,” said Vandermeer.

“It was almost exactly two years ago when 20 people came to see what we were doing in Hamilton. Two years from idea to operational. That is a phenomenal timeline,” said Jeffrey Neven, executive director of Indwell. 

Hambleton Hall was built in the 1950s as a Sunday School hall. The building needed significant work, but architects preserved some original features, including hardware, the parlor ceiling, and stained glass windows.

“The tenants are so excited to be here. Many have stories of being in the building before it became vacant, and they can appreciate how the renovations really embrace the building,” said Debra VanderMeer, program staff member at Hambleton Hall.

“The community was excited to see this building transformed, that it wasn’t torn down. The building itself becomes a metaphor for transformation,” said Neven. It was an opportunity to transform a building and transform tenants’ lives, but also to transform a community.

Because of the community scan, a multi-church group called Church Out Serving has formed, organizing furniture for tenants at Hambleton Hall and looking forward to serving Simcoe in more ways.
Debra Vandermeer is excited to get to know the tenants and be a part of their lives: “There is so much hope, and it is awesome to help foster an environment of community here.”

About the Author

Krista Dam-Vandekuyt is the Banner’s regional news correspondent for classis Hamilton.