Winnipeg newcomer housing centre gets facelift

Some newcomers to Winnipeg are about to move into a new and improved home.

Transitional housing complex has multilingual library, daycare and rooms for large families

Staff from the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba, along with refugee advocates, celebrated the grand opening of a renovated home on Isabel Street for newcomers Monday morning. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

Some newcomers to Winnipeg are about to move into a new and improved home.

The Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM) held a grand opening Monday for a transitional housing building it has at 215 Isabel Street.

The building has 60 units and is almost full after getting a recent facelift.

"This is an incredibly important day," said IRCOM executive director Dorota Blumczynska.

The building, which is owned by Manitoba Housing and run by IRCOM, is filled with modular suites and has three-bedroom units that can be combined with a studio to make room for families with as many as nine people.
The units inside the building have renovated kitchens. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

It also has an early childhood development centre for newcomer families who need daycare, and a multilingual library.

Blumczynska said the building is one of just two fitted with a heat treatment room to prevent the spread of pests throughout the building.

She said the building is more than housing for newcomers — it's a hub filled with resources to help refugees, refugee claimants and provincial nominees.

The IRCOM building is owned by Manitoba Housing and run by IRCOM. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

"We change the outcomes," she said, adding that the organization tries to empower families by giving them the tools they need, not handouts.

Blumczynska said there is a misconception newcomers are a strain on society when in fact many give back to the community by volunteering as cleaners and child-care assistants, for example.

"It is in fact the greatest gift to us because it reminds us of our common humanity."

with files from Louis-Philippe Leblanc