high-rise building exterior
(Image: The City of Toronto)

“A real win for our community!” Celebrating the opening of 389 Church Street

YWCA Toronto Chief Executive Officer Heather McGregor's remarks on the new supportive housing building for women and gender diverse people
February 4, 2021

At a time of incredible need in our community, YWCA Toronto and the City of Toronto have officially opened the doors to 389 Church Street - a new permanent, supportive housing building for 120 women and their families to call home. YWCA Toronto will operate the building, which consists of fully self-contained one- and two-bedroom apartments that will create a safe, inclusive and supportive environment for Indigenous and non-Indigenous women, gender diverse people, and youth and seniors who have experienced or who are at risk of experiencing homelessness. It will provide stability and wraparound services, thanks to our partners: Wigwamen Incorporated; Margaret's Community Housing and Support Services; and Elizabeth Fry. Services include housing stabilization, harm reduction, health promotion, and increased access to primary health care and acute mental health services. The building includes a pottery studio, Inspirations Studio, as well programs that focus on celebrating the Indigenous cultural heritage of residents, provided by Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto.

“Many people have no idea of the breadth and depth of the community services YWCA Toronto provides,” Mayor John Tory said at a virtual press conference announcing the opening on Thursday, February 4, 2021. “The very fact that they are our partners in this building is evidence of that and gives me complete confidence in this process going forward.”

These are the remarks delivered by YWCA Toronto’s Chief Executive Officer, Heather McGregor, at the press conference, hosted by the City of Toronto:

“This is really a momentous occasion, and I am so proud to be here today. I thank you for your kind words about the YWCA – we really appreciate that. As we all know, Toronto is facing a massive housing crisis and through many years of partnership, I know how committed the City is to addressing this challenge head on. I am very, very moved by the work that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor are doing to work on this particular issue. It makes me very, very proud to be a Torontonian – to know the commitment you have to affordable and supportive housing and, particularly, your understanding of how important the supportive component of housing is. It feels so good to be here in partnership with the City, the Province and other community agencies that have made this project a reality.

I would like to acknowledge Hilditch Architects, who were the architects for this program and who really have a special skill in designing housing that really meets the needs of people who require supportive housing. I really believe that this affordable supportive housing for women and gender diverse people is a real win for our community, and we are so proud to be a part of the solution in these really troubling times. The work of many individuals and organizations brought us here today. I would like to thank, again, our partners the Mayor, Wigwamen, Elizabeth Fry, Margaret’s with help from Women’s College Hospital, and the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto which will provide services, and Inspirations Studio that will offer pottery-making activity for residents. I would also like to thank our incredible YWCA staff who have worked so hard in many, many different ways to develop the program, to work on the financing of the project – it has been complex, and I thank them very much.

At the YWCA, we believe in and support women. We believe in the resilience of the human spirit to persist despite circumstances that are sometimes so terrible and out of our and their control. To come together as a community to lift one another up. We believe that with the right services, all residents of Toronto can thrive. And, we know it begins with partnership and courage. We are grateful for our partners. This pandemic is challenging us in ways we cannot have imagined, but at YWCA Toronto we remain hopeful that with the right kind of community investments, the right policies, and only the best intentions we can and we will do right by our community. We are very, very excited again to be in this wonderful neighbourhood and so thrilled about this much-needed supportive housing that will surely have a very positive impact.”

Click here to read the full City press release.

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