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Displaced Wheelton Manor residents land alternate housing as city grapples with ever-growing affordable housing wait list

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Residents displaced from their downtown apartment after a fire last week are either moving back in, or getting new temporary lodgings.

The Community Housing Corporation and the City of Windsor have been working day and night to make repairs at Wheelton Manor, at 333 Glengarry Ave. after a seventh-floor unit caught fire Feb. 8.

According to the city, 70 per cent of the building’s residents are now back home, but the seventh and eighth floors are still uninhabitable.

Officials with the the Community Housing Corporation (CHC), which owns the building, say a structural engineer is on site assessing when and how quickly residents on the top floor can return home.

“We're still very focused as well on the eighth floor, getting that up and ready as soon as possible,” said CHC chief tenant services officer Nolan Goyette.

“A big shout out to CHC, they have been working around the clock to ensure that that building gets up and running to ensure the tenants get back,” said the city’s commissioner of health and human services Andrew Daher.

Daher estimated about 34 residents are displaced from the fire. About 20 of them spent the last few days at a pop-up emergency shelter at the WFCU Centre but were asked to leave by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Those 20 individuals are now being shifted into existing units in the Community Housing Corporation’s portfolio.

“[With] some of that stock, we've tried to be innovative,” said Goyette. “If there's been spaces which may have been utilized as office space for community partners, we're taking a look at how do we get that ready for occupancy.”

Those who live on the seventh floor are being told it could be a "long time" before their units are accessible.

“The hallways sustained a significant amount of damage. We haven't been given an official estimate yet but we're looking at months until the hallway itself is cleared from from a health and safety perspective,” said Goyette.

It’s exacerbating an already pressing issue for the city, as it grapples with an ever-growing affordable housing wait list. According to city officials, that list now suprasses 8,000 people.

“I think anytime we're taking a unit out of stock specifically in our public housing portfolio, which is our social housing, it really does impact the broader community,” said Goyette.

This fire at Wheelton Manor and a massive blaze four years ago at downtown highrise Westcourt Place, as well as persistent issues at 1616 Ouellette, have pushed hundreds of people out of affordable rents and onto that list.

“There's no doubt that it's a challenge,” said Daher. “When we have unfortunate circumstances like we're experiencing today and the last couple of years, we have to be creative and we have to be innovative in how we find housing for these folks."

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