Winnipeg Centre MP Leah Gazan and Union Station MLA Uzoma Asagwara released the following statement on the sale of Lions Place:
As elected officials representing the downtown area, we are calling for a delay in the sale of Lions Place until such time as a new non-profit buyer can be found and we are asking the provincial and federal governments to step in and ensure residents will not lose housing.
Since being elected, we have been alarmed by a worsening housing crisis that is pricing people out of their neighbourhoods, and even forcing some of our constituents on to the streets. There is a particular shortage of deeply affordable seniors’ housing. This is a shortage that was made even worse by the sale of a Manitoba Housing building at 185 Smith St, which resulted in the loss of 200 housing units for low-income seniors. The prospect of losing a further 287 affordable, non-market seniors’ housing units in our constituency is deeply alarming.
Lions Place is more than just a roof over the heads of its residents. It’s a thriving community, with a volunteer-run library, a garden, art classes and more. Losing this community, which provides seniors with connection and addresses social isolation, would be just as severe a blow as losing the housing itself.
We have met with residents and their message is clear: they were blindsided by the announcement of a sale, and they do not want to be forced out of their homes. Seniors built this country - they deserve to be treated with respect and have opportunities to age in place in their home community. We cannot allow Lions Place to experience the same fate as 185 Smith St, which was converted into upscale lofts renting for $2,000 a month.
Housing is a human right. We ask all levels of government to join us in upholding this right by supporting the residents of Lions Place and working to ensure that this genuinely affordable housing community is protected.