A new year, a new home.
Work will soon be completed on Epic Opportunities’ newest home, a 1,500-sq. ft. bungalow in the Sage Creek neighbourhood in south Winnipeg.
This is the first time the non-profit organization which supports people with intellectual disabilities to live independently is building an accessible house from scratch rather than purchasing or renting an already completed home.
Construction of the new house began last summer and was scheduled to be completed early in the new year.
Once civic and provincial inspections and licensing requirements have been met the house will then become home to three women supported by Epic Opportunities, likely sometime in April.
Service Development Coordinator Jennifer Welsh says the completion of the house will be the culmination of nearly four years of work by the organization, members of its board of directors and staff.
Welsh says there was considerable discussion about whether Epic should purchase a house that was already built or have one built. It was eventually determined building a new home would be more cost effective than retrofitting an existing house to accommodate the needs of the people who will be living there.
A number of different neighbourhoods were considered prior to Sage Creek being chosen. Welsh says one of the main factors in choosing the location was that it is geographically central for the families of the three women who will be living there.
Another consideration was the fact all of the other lots in the immediate area have already been developed, she added.
“That was really a huge factor for us. It was already a [built] community,” Welsh says. “It’s easy for someone in a wheelchair to get around. There’s also trails and walking paths there. Plus you can walk a few feet and you’re at a bus stop.”
The fact the neighbourhood is already established will help the three women who will be living at the house to develop relationships with other people in the community, she adds.
“It will be such a great opportunity for these women to develop relationships with their neighbours. It will be a whole new world for them,” she says.
Alana Chegus, a direct support worker for one of the three women moving into the home, says she thinks moving into a place of her own will have a positive effect on the person she supports and her family.
“We drove by the house the other day and I said this is your new home and she got really excited,” Chegus says.
In addition to providing her with an opportunity to get to know people in her new neighbourhood and ride her bike in a safe environment, it will also be a chance to bond with her two new roommates.
“I think being around people her own age and with the same interests will add some spark to her day. I think it will make her [that] much happier,” Chegus says.