An intriguing new development concept is unfolding at 500 James St. North (at Picton). Hughson Street Baptist Church has been serving the North End of Hamilton since 1887 based from 383 Hughson St. N. When the church outgrew that facility a number of years ago, they began using Bennetto School gym for Sunday mornings in addition to various youth sports programs. In 2011, the church purchased the building at 500 James St. N. with the vision of creating a facility to bring their Sunday and mid-week programming under one roof. But with all the changes happening in our neighborhood, the need for affordable, accessible housing has become a constant refrain that the church couldn’t ignore.  In June, Hughson held a community meeting to introduce their proposal to build affordable housing as part of their new church complex.

The effects of gentrification has been having a disproportionate impact on area residents who live with disabilities, low incomes, and rent their housing. Pastor Dwayne Cline, who has served at the church for over 21 years, has led the church so Hughson can meet local needs in a way that builds on existing strengths like the North End’s self-reliance.  With affordable housing emerging as a pressing need, he invited Indwell to help assess how the church could respond.

The plans for Hughson’s new facility have developed over the past five months as the church and Indwell have refined the vision and incorporated feedback from many sources. The forty-five 1 & 2-bedroom units have been reconfigured, and the building has been set back further from neighbouring properties.

Indwell will be supporting local residents who are living with conditions like diabetes and mental health issues and who need support and affordability to maintain stable housing.  North Enders have already started reaching out to Indwell asking how to get on the waiting list.

While Indwell will provide the housing supports, Hughson will provide spiritual and practical supports and ministries. The church will also contribute over $10 million towards the total $17 million project.

The church is hosting a project update meeting on Tuesday, December 6th at 7pm in Bennetto School (47 Simcoe St. E.).  Indwell will share the refined drawings, status of the planning process, and other progress. Hughson Street Baptist Church has also invited Councillor Jason Farr to speak about the project, and Councillor Chad Collins to give an update on City Housing’s ongoing plans in the neighborhood.  Anyone interested in the project or affordable housing in the North End is invited to attend this open house-style event.