On Tuesday, Nov 10th, Impact Construction and Choices for Youth (CFY) celebrated the completion of the Cashin Avenue Project, which provides five new units of affordable housing to young families in St. John’s. To mark the occasion, Impact and CFY hosted a Partner Preview & Tour event for key stakeholders and media to view the finished units before the new tenants move in. Sub-contractors, CFY staff, and former Impact youth trainees came together to share their work with the community and demonstrate the massive social value unlocked at each step of the build.
The event included a traditional red ribbon cutting, which not only symbolized of the completion of the units but also the motto for the project: “For youth, by youth”. With CFY Director of Social Enterprise Chelsey MacNeil and Executive Director Sheldon Pollett holding each end of the ribbon, former Impact youth trainees April Evans and James Hoskins were eager to officially mark the completion of the project. Both April and James worked on the Cashin Ave Project while employed with Impact, and have since moved on to post-secondary programs. April is entering the trades while James is studying to be a youth and family worker.
The five units of affordable housing at Cashin Avenue will become homes for young families connected to CFY’s Momma Moments program for pregnant and parenting young women. Last year, Momma Moments provided support for more than 70 mothers and 100 children in St. John’s and Conceptions Bay South. General Manager of Impact Construction, Brian Hanley, noticed the connections between the youth in each CFY program: “As the project progressed, we noticed that many of Impact’s youth had friends in Momma Moments. They weren’t just showing up to work for a paycheck, they were showing up to provide safe, affordable homes for their friends in need.”
The has been full of learning opportunities for youth and staff, and there were some challenges along the way. Initially planned as a renovation, the derelict property was demolished and rebuilt from the foundation up. In January, 2020 St. John’s was hit with a massive snowstorm that shut down the city for an eight-day State of Emergency. By March, COVID-19 had reached Newfoundland and put the project on hold while safe work measures could be put in place. The Impact Construction team worked hard though the summer and fall to make up time and successfully completed the project on time, on code, and on budget.
Impact Construction is expanding quickly and currently provides employment and wrap-around support for over 30 youth per year. Through the Cashin Avenue Project alone, Impact was able to employ a total of 38 young people and provide 8,275 hours of youth labour. Youth who work at Impact are provided significant skills training and meaningful employment experience. These opportunities make an immediate difference in the lives of hard-working youth that are facing barriers in their lives. The Cashin Avenue Project has contributed further economic value through over $12,000 in income tax earned and $66,000 diverted from Income Support. The property was purchased thanks to a social finance investment from the R. Howard Webster Foundation, who provide capital funding for projects that directly link to key social outcomes.