Since 2008, Abri Marguerite has been helping new Francophone immigrants by offering them temporary housing options on their arrival. The organization currently owns two buildings in the St. Boniface area, with a total of ten units.
Accueil francophone oversees management of the two residences. “We’ve noticed a growing need for housing,” says the organization’s director, Bintou Sacko. “Winnipeg’s housing vacancy rate is low, but demand is high, and St. Boniface is expensive. These residences keep newcomers close to the services offered in their language as well as French language schools.”
The first residence, on Dumoulin St., has five three-bedroom suites. “These are short-term transition units where newcomers can stay for up to one month. While we help families find other housing if they don’t have anything by the end of that time, we encourage them to make their own arrangements.”
In 2017, Abri Marguerite purchased a new residence on St. Jean-Baptiste St. “We found that the short-term housing didn’t give newcomers enough time to get settled and familiarize themselves with the community,” says Raymond Simard, CEO of Abri Marguerite.
“We thought it would be good to have a residence where they could stay longer, to give them a chance to get settled, register their children for school and maybe find permanent housing in St. Boniface.” Bintou Sacko adds: “For these new units, we offer three-, six- and twelve-month leases, depending on needs.”
The first residents of this new building arrived in spring 2018. “We had to give the people living in the building when we purchased it time to move out,” says Raymond Simard. “Then we substantially renovated the place to bring the units up to City code.”
The house has four one-bedroom suites and one two-bedroom suite. “The suites are always rented, and we continue to make regular repairs. They’re old buildings, and there are always improvements to be made. The outside stairs will be replaced soon to make them safer.”
Abri Marguerite plans to continue to expand its services in the coming years. “We would like to add a third residence offering long-term options to the short- and medium-term units. We are currently working on a project to provide permanent suites for immigrants.”
Photo: Raymond Simard