Spirit Awards 2017

spirit-award-resizedMNPHA is pleased to present the recipients of the 2017 Spirit of Housing Awards.

The awards were presented at the 5th Annual Building Partnerships Conference held November 21-23 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Awards were presented by Ms. Laurie Socha, MNPHA President and Ms. Joanne Schmidt, Chair of the Awards Committee.

Award categories included the Spirit of Achievement Award, Spirit of Service Award and the Harry Lehotsky Spirit of Leadership Award.

MNPHA is proud of our members.  We know you’re proud of each other, and we thank everyone who submitted nominations for this year’s awards.


Spirit of Achievement Award – Charles Huband

In 1993, Westminster Housing Society began as an outreach program of Westminster United Church.  Charles Huband and other church members believed that replacing neglected housing would benefit the community and the church. They began by replacing housing surrounding their church.

Since day one, Charles has been involved with Westminster Housing Society.  He was a founding director and incorporator and has served as Chair on a number of occasions.  Today he is best described by his title “Member at Large.

In 1997, Westminster housing began purchasing and renovating individuals house in the West Broadway neighborhood which was a significant step in revitalizing West Broadway.  Since then they have acquired and rehabilitated 21 homes and completed 3 new builds.    Today as West Broadway transitions they have begun to focus their efforts north in the Spence Neighbourhood.

Charles continues to fundraises, takes minutes, writing funding proposals, checks job sites, find properties and meditates tenant disputes.  The only thing he does not do is prune trees.  (Something tells me at one point he did).

But more than renovating homes, Charles is a strong advocate for rental housing.  To date, Westminster has created 100 units as affordable homes for renters.  In a neighbourhood where 94% of residents are renters, this has made it possible for many low income people to find good quality homes.

As a non-profit housing provider Westminster Housing appreciates and is indebted to the work of Charles Huband, for his vision 24 years ago and his ongoing determination and leadership in providing homes and not just housing

Spirit of Service Award – Janette Brown

Over decade ago many people convened, engaged, mobilized and have supported the creation of Western Seniors Non Profit Housing Co-operative in Brandon, Manitoba.  In 2009, they applied for incorporation.  Janette accepted the role of secretary and has held the position ever since. The cooperative worked alongside the housing criteria to ensure as many people possible could fulfill their dream of cooperative home ownership.  Janette contributed more than her fair share of time to support these projects.  She felt strongly about embarking on a journey to learn with and from other cooperative members, supporters and community to make this a successful project.  With her talents and background in teaching she was instrumental in helping cooperatives to obtain resources, education and training.

The core reason the Western Manitoba Seniors Coop exists is to enable seniors, to age in place and to live in community by providing options that support physical and mental health, social engagement and personal independence.  Janette has been an instrumental member and volunteer in achieving their coops goal of affordable housing while providing working solutions for long term improvements.

The coop is very proud to recognize Janette Brown as an outstanding professional.  They are grateful for the benefits from her leadership, inspiration and commitment in the creations of their coops. Her accomplishments include serving on numerous steering committees and she was the genesis in the creation of education scholarship program and the Vincent Massey Student Exchange Program.  Collaboration with educators and students has proven to rewarding for everyone.

Janette’s strategically partnered within local businesses and various levels of government agencies to create working agreements that benefit the member she services and especially for seniors without any financial means.

Janette is admired for her work to create a respectful environment, where all people are treated with dignity and respect. The principle of fair and respectful treatment is fundamental core principle one that Western Manitoba Seniors Non Profit Housing Coop commits to uphold for all today. Her work today continues on behalf of the 250 members, she is especially driven by the need of those on the wait list for affordable seniors housing.

The Board of Western Manitoba Seniors Non Profit Housing Cooperative is proud of Janette.   As a non-profit housing organization they are indebted to the work of the Janette and are grateful for her contributions and commitment to the well- being of their community.

Harry Lehotsky Spirit of Leadership Award – Menno Peters

Over the last 18 years Menno Peters has been involved in affordable housing, spending a number of years with the Province of Manitoba before joining Winnipeg Housing Rehabilitation Corporation (WRHC).  In 2004 Menno was hired as their Executive Director.  Menno is a CPA, CMA, an Accredited Residential Manager (ARM) and a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Housing CIHCM.  Since joining the Corporation, Menno has successfully increased WHRC affordable housing portfolio by more than 50%.

His commitment to affordable housing is evident in the contribution he has made through his involvement in the community and on numerous Board affiliations.  Menno served for many years as the Treasurer for the Canadian Housing Renewal Association, he is a past Board member for Rooftops Canada, a past member of the Community Advisory Board in Winnipeg, a Board Member of IRCOM (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization in Manitoba) and is currently the past president of the Manitoba Non Profit Housing Association.

Menno was an integral leader and a founding director in the creation of the Manitoba Non Profit Housing Association (MNPHA).  He inspired and gathered the group of founding members who also shared a vision to create an association to strengthen the affordable housing sector.   Through his leadership he helped to mentor and shape the vision for the Association that non-profit housing providers are benefiting from today.

Through collaboration with funders and creating positive partnerships with community associations, Menno has worked hard to advance housing options available to low income household and held strong on his commitment to create quality affordable housing.

With efforts aimed at erasing the stigma associated with social housing projects, Menno has advocated and lobbied for several “one of a kind” housing projects that are now home to several low income individuals and families.  Menno is a trend setter.  These projects include:

Flora Place – 28 unit multi-family site – which won a CMHC award for best practices in affordable housing.

Urban Ecology – one of 15 projects selected across Canada to be built as part of the CMHC Equilibrium Sustainable Housing Initiatives.

422 Ross Condos – 10 unit Condo a project built as an alternative solution to provide affordable homeownership opportunities.

Recently Sir Paul Martin Estates – 92 multi-generational affordable housing complexes is the first in Winnipeg to combine seniors and family housing.

Aside from the bricks and mortar of affordable housing, Menno has established partnerships with community service organization and provides leadership to WRHC’s tenant resource coordinators to ensure support services are in place to promote successful tenancies and assist WRHC clients with the challenges they face.

Menno works with and leads a team of dedicated staff committed to the management of several their party and sponsor managed affordable housing projects including the Bell Hotel, a partnership between WRHC, Centre Venture and WRHA, the Bell Hotel using the “housing first” philosophy provides affordable housing and access to support services to individuals who have experienced homelessness.

His leadership and dedication to the affordable sector supports a strong belief that all deserve a place to call home.  With his dry humor, graciousness and compassion Menno has served the affordable community well.

We celebrate and are grateful for Menno’s legacy of a committed, honorable and long serving leader and advocate of affordable housing.