Have you ever considered buying an apartment house for community and compassion for times like these?

Our friends in Little Flowers Community, that we met in the last post, did exactly that.  They bought an apartment house in a poorer part of Winnipeg Manitoba…with the help of some Mennonite businessmen that caught the vision.

The vision for Chiara House was born out of a terrible tragedy in Little Flowers early in its development.  A young artist who had just started his journey with Jesus took his life.  Devastated by the complexity of mental health issues among the homeless, the Chiara community felt a call to help their neighbors survive their mental health issues by providing safe stable housing for them.

Purchasing this 3 story apartment house with a full basement will make this dream a reality.  Each of the three floors has a two bedroom, one bedroom and studio apartment.  These apartments are being refurbished to provide housing for both those with mental health issues, and  for members of the Little Flowers Community. This enables them to be present to their neighbors in Chiara House and also to their neighbors in the community.

Jamie Arpin-Ricci stated, “Those who choose to live as members of this community will share life according to a defined ‘rule of life’, committing to patterns of prayer, service and hospitality together. There will be opportunities for non-residents to participate in this community (though to a lesser degree), as well as opportunity for people to participate in shorter-term internships while living in the community.”

If the City of Winnipeg cooperates Chiara House will not only offer a lower rent to guests from the community but also to members of the Little Flowers Community.  This could save them at least $100 a month.  This means that these friends of Jesus will have either more time or resources to invest in the work of this important urban ministry.

“Chiara House will be something of a hub in the community,” stated Jamie.  “With the shared community space on the third floor, hosting people for meals, parties, etc. becomes possible…

The hospitality suite will allow us to provide emergency housing for people, be they homeless friends getting out of the deadly cold for a night or two, or those displaced from their home due to a fire or a crime.”

“ While we strive to welcome people into our homes, when dealing with people you do not know, especially when some have untreated mental illness, having a separate, secure space that is still welcoming is very helpful.” Jamie added.  Chiara House will also have showers “to extend privacy and dignity to people who might want to clean up, yet still do so in a context (when necessary) that allows for security.”

Jamie concluded “Chiara House is something unique in every way – from its conception, to its sustainability, to its presence and practices in the neighbourhood.  We pray that God will continue to provide the resources needed to complete and sustain the project.  But most importantly, we pray that God will bring the right people to set into this shared life of missional community together.”

Have you ever considered buying an apartment house for community and compassion for times like these?


Jamie Arpin-Ricci shares “ I am a writer, pastor, and missional church-planter living in the inner city of Winnipeg, Canada with my Aussie wife, Kim, and Ethiopian son, Micah.  I am the pastor of Little Flowers Community, a Franciscan-Anabaptist faith community in Winnipeg’s downtown West End.  I am also the director of Chiara House, a new intentional Christian community who share life “on the margins”.  As a writer, I have contributed to several books and I am the author of the book, “The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis & Life in the Kingdom” (IVPress, Nov. 2011) & write at a blog by the same name at www.missional.ca. I am a third order Franciscan with The Company of Jesus, an ecumenical order under the Anglican rite.”

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