Leading national not for profit community housing provider, Community Housing Limited’s (CHL) repurposing of the St. Emilie’s Convent in Kalamunda into a supported residential accommodation facility for women in need, has been recognised in the Australasian Housing Institute (AHI) 2019 Professional Excellence in Housing Awards.

The St. Emilie’s convent refurbishment won the ‘Leading Housing Development Project Award’ for WA at the recent awards evening and now goes forward to be considered for the national awards to be announced in Darwin in August. Initiated by the WA State Government’s Department of Housing Authority, the St. Emilie’s project was completed in 2018 in response to a need for social housing for disadvantaged young women between the ages of 13 and 33.

The St. Emilie’s facility is a partnership between the WA Government Department of Communities who contributed the land, Lotterywest that provided funding for the project, Esther Foundation as the ongoing onsite facility manager, and CHL as the project developer and provider of on-going property management services.“CHL was brought on board by the WA Government to manage the design and delivery of the St. Emilie’s project and to provide on-going general and property management support given our specialised expertise in these areas. Pleased to say that we successfully delivered the project on an extremely tight budget with our in-house architectural services together with WBS Homes the local builder of the project,” CHL’s Managing Director Steve Bevington said.

“We are delighted for this very special project to have been recognised as it has been well received by the residents, community and the industry alike. It is a benchmark project in this sector in the way it demonstrates how a community housing organisation can develop a facility that delivers the specialist services and support for those in need whilst also enhancing the amenity of the local community,” adds Steve.

The repurposed St. Emilie’s facility now provides safe, affordable and supported residential accommodation for young women experiencing mental health issues, substance abuse, domestic violence, depression, self-harm or teenage pregnancy at risk of homelessness.

Prior to the completion of the project, there were limited options for women seeking supported accommodation. Since opening, 40 women have been housed and are currently benefiting via the Esther Foundation’s residential recovery programs. They are now in safe and secure housing and are being provided with the support services needed to improve their self-worth, and personal and professional skills to lead a successful life within the community.

During the design and build process, 116 employment opportunities were created for a combination of skilled and non-skilled workers from within the local community.

St. Emilie’s now directly employs 12 support staff and provides continual work experience opportunities for ten interns. A further 50 volunteers also assist in the day-to-day operations.

Originally built in 1883, the St. Emilie’s Convent is a listed Heritage 3 local asset, and its ownership is retained by the WA State Government.

“Respecting its historic and local significance, CHL created a repurposed design that delivered the required facilities while retaining the important architectural aspects of the original building,” Steve explains.

In the redevelopment, the original Priest’s House has been retained as has the original façade including the arched porticos and stained-glass windows, whilst the main building was rebuilt to include communal living and dining areas, a kitchen, counselling rooms and administration offices.

St. Emilie’s now provides eighteen (18) double and two (2) single bedrooms, including seven self-contained accommodation units that incorporate ensuite and kitchenette facilities plus a communal roofed terrace.

Sustainability is supported at St. Emilie’s by the inclusion of solar power throughout plus full disability access and aerobic wastewater treatment.

The St Emilie’s Project also received a special mention at the 2018 UDIA Awards for Excellence.

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