Life at O-day’min Village
The ups and downs of living in affordable housing.
What’s it like living in an affordable housing apartment building in the inner city? We’d like to share with you the mix of experiences, emotions and challenges from the point of view of two people who are relatively new arrivals at O-day’min Village on 95th Street and 103rd Avenue.
First, some background. O-day’min Village, once known as Melcor YMCA Village and now operated by Civida, has 148 apartment units spread over six stories with more than 200 people living here. It’s an interesting mix of Indigenous people, newcomers, single mothers, and formerly unhoused folks - all surviving on low incomes.
In such a diverse and large group, it’s a real challenge to make this place feel like a home. But with the help of a City of Edmonton grant (and a part-time coordinator), many residents are working together to create a sense of belonging in this large apartment building.
It started with creating a space on our main floor where residents gather for coffee, a chat, a game of cards, or doing one of those impossible puzzles. We have talked about physical health, shared the pain of abuse as youngsters, and how it feels to be Two-Spirit. But we also laugh and help each other too.
We have tapped into weekly deliveries of best-before dated food from the Italian Centre through the Leftovers program, hold the occasional bingo with the help of Mike from E4C, have an exercise class especially for people with mobility issues, and listen to cultural lessons and practice Indigenous crafts with Bent Arrow.
One of our long-time residents dips into his own funds to put on barbeques in the summer and group meals in our lobby. We meet once a month with Civida to discuss maintenance issues and ideas to build a stronger community, and to share concerns about safety.
We live in a challenging neighbourhood in a challenging time. There is a lot of drug use on the streets. We are hoping the City will take effective steps in the future to work with the people in a nearby encampment to help them transition to safer spaces.
It’s all part of turning a building into a community. It takes time to bring more residents into the circle, help residents feel comfortable with each other, and pursue new ideas to create stronger bonds and trust. We are just starting, but by creating a sense of community we aim to redefine the idea of home.
Cathy and Ahmed are residents of O-day’min Village.