With a possible one million dollars in government funding announced on Feb. 2, Toronto’s Covenant House and Yonge Street Mission are stepping up plans to renovate and improve their downtown buildings.
The missions will cover 50 per cent of costs, with the government matching funds up to a combined $1.09 million. But the centres must complete the renovations by March 31, 2011.
Covenant House, which provides shelter and support for homeless youth, will provide $627,500 from their capital fund. Yonge Street Mission, which provides a wide range of services and support to the poor and homeless, is seeking $465,000.
Rose Cino, head of communications for Covenant House Toronto, said the government funding will be “a huge help” and allow the youth shelter to “do some major repairs that have been on the books for a long time” including work on the roof and stucco of two historic buildings constructed in the early 1900s. There are also plans to create a commercial kitchen for teaching cooking, budgeting, nutrition and other life skills to youth.
“The important thing is, this kind of funding allows us to direct more of our donors’ dollars toward programs for the youth, but really helps by getting us the kind of renovations that we need,” she said.
Rev. Karen Bach, a Presbyterian minister and mission program and ministry officer for Yonge Street Mission, said staff are moving quickly to seek out necessary funds from individuals and foundations that are likely to invest in brick and mortar.
“We’re stepping a little bit out in faith,” she said, noting that the mission had only its operating budget to draw from.
Two of YSM’s five buildings need new roofs, and there are plans to renovate the second floor of the community centre, turning it into more program space and enlarging the computer lab. The mission is currently renting trailers to provide extra storage for the used clothing store, but construction of a storage building was planned to begin as early as March.