Deciding to Renovate
During the stakeholder engagement process leading to the development of Cota’s Strategic Plan 2016-2021, Paul Bruce (Executive Director, Cota) held a series focus groups with clients of our various programs. The primary desire expressed during focus groups with clients residing in dedicated supportive housing sites, was for Cota to either renovate or relocate some of our dedicated supportive housing sites in order to ensure that each tenant had a self-contained unit with an en suite washroom. Another area that clients across all programs expressed concern about was the need for improved food security and nutrition. Both of these areas are now highlighted as objectives to be pursued within our Strategic Plan 2016-2021.
Coincidentally, the property owners at Bailey House applied to the City of Toronto for funding to renovate the building. Cota supported the owner’s application and provided information for the submission because we immediately recognized this as an opportunity for our clients to potentially end up having self-contained units with their own en-suite washrooms and benefit from a freshly renovated and improved living environment. The opportunity was just too good to pass up! We were provided with an opportunity to have minor influence on the design plans that allowed us to contribute some input and tailor some units to specific long-term client needs.
Relocating Our Tenants
We faced a lot of unknowns initially. But, our promise to the group of Bailey House tenants was that, “we are all in this together.” The only way we were going to move is if we could find a temporary home that housed everyone together.
And we were successful in fulfilling this promise!
What We Are Doing to Meet Client Needs
Prior to the renovations, meals were prepared exclusively by the Bailey House cook in the coach house located on the property, but separate from the main residence. There was also a very small communal tenant kitchen within the main residence, but it didn’t offer space for staff to engage with clients. The communal tenant kitchen space was uninviting and rarely used. Client feedback and this renovation process offered us an opportunity to improve upon the communal tenant kitchen space and offer daytime programming to the clients here to help them build cooking skills. The new communal tenant kitchen being built will be larger and offer staff and clients a space to work in together. Directly adjacent to this will be a new eating area with an open partition between the two rooms. We hope this will draw more clients into this space and encourage them to build skills that allow them increased independence
Before the renovations, tenants had to share bathrooms. Now 15 out of the 17 units will have their own en-suite facility, furnished with a shower, sink and toilet. The remaining two units will be sharing a bathroom. For one of our clients, specifically, who has mobility challenges and is visually impaired, we tailored a design to meet his particular needs by adding a urinal to his bathroom. We are excited to meet this particular client need.
The original design of the courtyard was poorly laid out and limiting, making it difficult to encourage the tenants at Bailey house to get outside and use the backyard space. However, the renovations have allowed us to create the space we need by first removing the fire escape staircase at the back of the building. We hope that the open design will be inviting and helps us foster a community with the tenants living here.
WHAT WE ARE EXCITED FOR
Fulfilling the needs of our clients for the long-term is a top priority and we look forward with great anticipating to our move back in to this newly furnished residence!