Former school gets new life as shelter | A Place to Call Home
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This former primary school in Gatineau, Que. is getting a major facelift.

(Visual: Exterior of gutted former school)

It will soon be a home for 31 women who are homeless or fleeing domestic violence.

(Visual: Computer animation of grey brick building, what future residence will look like)

Le Centre Mechtilde, a local women’s charity, will run the facility.

(Visual: Computer animation of front of building, grey brick and wood trim, parking lot in front, what future residence will look like)

The organization has been helping women since 1979.

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This new facility will triple their bed capacity.

(Visual: Three men and one woman standing under blue awning use shovels to break ground on the new facility)

CMHC and the government of Quebec provided financial support for the project.

(Visual: Gutted exterior of former school building)

The new centre will open in spring 2018.

(Visual: Computer animation bird’s eye view of what new facility and the surrounding grounds will look like)

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June 21, 2017

From school to shelter to transformed lives

It’s early June 2017 as Anca Sultana, director of the Centre Mechtilde, reflects proudly on her organization’s accomplishments. The Gatineau, Quebec centre has provided shelter and safety for women and their children since 1979.

Now the team at the centre will be able to achieve even more. With funding from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Société d’habitation du Québec, they’re breaking ground on a unique project. The centre is building 31 long-awaited transitional housing units within the existing structure of the former Saint-Paul Elementary School.

Located at the heart of the neighbourhood, the rejuvenated building will open in the spring of 2018. The affordable units will provide safe housing for women facing homelessness and single mothers experiencing family violence. The new housing will help bridge the gap between people finding basic shelter and rebuilding their lives.

An exercise in teamwork

“Transitional homes help women regain their autonomy and build the self-confidence to prepare them for what’s ahead,” says Anca. “There’s collaboration between residents supporting one another and staff offering knowledge and coaching.”

Collaboration is often a theme at the Centre Mechtilde, and this project is no exception. It brought together several municipal councillors and all levels of government.

“Despite tight deadlines, we were able to build relationships and create strong partnerships that continue to serve us well,” says Anca. “It was an exercise in teamwork.”

Several funding avenues helped make this project possible. To learn more, visit: