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Matthew House opens its 20th house with the help of the City of Ottawa

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A house near the Britannia neighbourhood is one of the ways the City of Ottawa is addressing the influx of refugees.

Angela Success moved to Canada from Nigeria in 2018 and was a Matthew House resident for six months. She says it was a lifeline that helped her get on her feet in a new country.

"Matthew House welcomed me, helped me medically, helped me socially to integrate into the society, and helped me to get some training to be able to be useful to the society today," said Success, who now sits on the board of directors for the non-profit organization.

"Matthew House also supports us when we're moving out. And as I'm speaking with you today, the furniture I have in my house is from Matthew House furniture."

The organization provides settlement support and a safe place to live for those forced to flee their country of origin. They also help furnish other homes where refugees live.

There are now 20 homes used to help refugees.

"What we're doing is essentially growing our capacity over time. And this is, again, house number 20. We have about 180 beds. We're going to try to continue expanding our capacity until we can divert all the refugee claimants from the shelter system. So, when they arrive in Ottawa, first thing they don't end up homeless. They come into our program, get the support that they need," said Allan Reesor-McDowell, executive director of Matthew House Ottawa.

Matthew House has opened a 20th house to help refugees in Ottawa. (Dave Charbonneau/CTV News Ottawa)

This house is on loan from the City of Ottawa, which owns the property.

"We had originally bought it as a possible way to get to the Queensview station for Stage 2 LRT. We wanted to have a shortcut, and this house seemed to line up well with the station. Unfortunately, the deal behind us fell through for the other property. So, we were left with the house," coun. Theresa Kavanagh.

Kavanagh said neighbours on the street are happy to see the house used for such a good cause.

"I had the opportunity to go door to door with a representative of Matthew House, and the reaction I got was fantastic. People were very accepting and actually thrilled to see an empty house being used by people who need it," she said.

Ottawa has seen a significant rise in homeless refugee claimants. The Mission in downtown Ottawa has been dealing with an overwhelming number of refugees showing up unannounced.

"In a nutshell, Matthew House picks you up from the streets, from homelessness, grooms you, helps you, and supports you to become a useful member of society," Success said.

Last year, Matthew House furnished more than 1,400 homes and feeds more than 100 people daily.

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