Former St. Agnes Catholic School. (Photo courtesy of the SCCDSB).Former St. Agnes Catholic School. (Photo courtesy of the SCCDSB).

Former Chatham school snapped up by affordable housing group

A company that creates affordable housing has bought a surplus school in Chatham.

Indwell Community Homes has bought the former St. Agnes Catholic School for $635,000. The sale was approved Monday night by the Board of Trustees at a special meeting of the St. Clair Catholic District School Board.

“We are pleased that the sale of this surplus property is moving forward,” said Board Chair John Van Heck. “My congratulations to Amy Janssens and her team. We look forward to moving additional surplus properties off our books in the weeks and months ahead.”

Indwell said its affordable housing model is built on integrated supports, partnerships, innovative technologies, and financial sustainability that they said contribute to the stability, wellness, and success of their tenants. Indwell is also a Christian charity and said 15 per cent of its costs come from donors. Indwell bought its first apartment building in 2000. Indwell provides supportive housing to more than 650 households in London, Woodstock, Hamilton, and Simcoe. Their housing options range from residential care facilities with 24-hour on-site services, high support housing, and independent apartments with supports.

"Indwell exists to provide hope and homes for all. Our supports, services, and employment are open to people from every creed, race, ethnicity, sex, ability, sexual orientation, and gender identity," read a statement on their web site. "Indwell’s leadership are motivated by the example of Jesus Christ as reflected in Indwell’s statement of faith. Indwell engages with diverse communities; we actively identify and remove barriers that prevent people from accessing and participating in our services and organization."

Mayor Darrin Canniff said homelessness is one of Chatham-Kent's  biggest challenges.

The sale of surplus properties owned by the Board is governed by the province, which directs that all properties must first be offered to a list of preferred agents, including municipalities, universities and colleges, school boards and other public sector agencies. The Board said a list of preferred agents was presented to the Board of Trustees on November 13, 2019 but no expressions of interest were received from public sector agencies and the Board then started looking for other interested parties on May 13, 2021. Board officials said ten offers were received and the sealed submissions were opened during an online meeting with the Board’s solicitor.

The Board has two other remaining surplus properties that will also be sold on the open market. Offering dates are yet to be determined for the vacant former St. Vincent Catholic School, at 9399 McNaughton Line in Chatham and Monsignor Uyen Catholic School, located at 255 Lark Street in Chatham, which will close at the end of June 2021.

All three properties are surplus as the result of the new St. Angela Merici Catholic School on McNaughton Avenue, W. in Chatham, which opened to students and staff in September 2020.

Staff and students at the current Monsignor Uyen site on Lark Street will relocate to the newly refurbished former Our Lady of Fatima property on Baldoon Road  in Chatham in September 2021.

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