Refugee and immigrant women coming to Winnipeg will soon have access to safe, permanent and affordable housing in the form of an apartment building being built downtown.

Marie Rose Place, a $9-million six-storey complex on Edmonton Street between St. Mary and Graham avenues, will offer 40 apartment suites.

Marie Rose Place will be located next to Holy Names House of Peace, which provides support services and interim housing to women and children who are new to Canada and have limited or no family or community support in Manitoba.

Officials with the organization, private investor Hargrave Holdings Ltd., and the three levels of government held a sod-turning ceremony on Thursday to kick off construction.

Tenants of Marie Rose Place can pay subsidized rents to live in spaces where they can raise their children and adjust to life in Winnipeg, according to officials.

Among those currently living at Holy Names House of Peace is Asel Duisheeva, who came to Canada alone from Kyrgyzstan about a month ago.

"I was staying in a cheap hotel. I was scared and depressed. But since I came to the Holy Names House of Peace … I feel much better," she said, adding that she had to leave her 13-year-old daughter in her home country.

"I've got support from everybody, and now I could realize my future, what I have to do," she added.

Hargrave Holdings will invest a total of $5.5 million in the apartment project, while the three levels of government are contributing a total of $3 million.

Hargrave Holdings president Robert Dick said more needs to be done to help those who come to Canada to build a better life.

"I'm really concerned about those 120 young, single females that come into Winnipeg every year, and they have no place to go," he said.

Marie Rose Place is set to open in July 2014.