Wigwamen originally began in 1970 as a committee who met at Toronto’s Native Friendship Centre. Members were anxious to do something about the need for better housing for Native people in the City of Toronto. The high cost of living in the city, the unfamiliar cultural and physical environment, isolation, discrimination, and lack of education and experience, all contributed to hindering the adjustment of Aboriginal individuals and families migrating to the city. This included access to adequate and affordable housing.
The committee developed a housing program to provide rental assisted housing to Aboriginal residents in the City of Toronto and in 1972, Wigwamen Incorporated was founded. Since then, the organization has been gradually and progressively expanding its “Toronto Family and Seniors Housing” portfolio:
- Between 1973 and 1979, Wigwamen acquired 144 family units on 95 properties with funding from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Ontario Ministry of Housing.
- Recognizing a need for housing for Aboriginal seniors, Wigwamen Terrace was conceived, designed and developed. Construction of the 103-apartment complex for Elders was completed in 1979.
- During the 1990s, Wigwamen expanded its family housing portfolio with another 71 scattered family housing units.
- In 2005, Wigwamen opened its doors to residents at 20 Sewells Road. With 92 units including 9 bachelor units, 33 one-bedroom units, 20 three-bedroom units and 2 four-bedroom units, Sewells Road is unique to Wigwamen’s portfolio. Fifty percent of the units at Sewells Road are occupied by families and inidividuals of Aboriginal ancestry while the remaining fifty percent are occupied by non-Aboriginal households.
Today, Wigwamen Incorporated owns and manages a total of 221 housing units scattered throughout the City of Toronto including singles, semis, duplexes, triplexes etc; 127 units at Wigwamen Terrace located at 14 Spadina Road; 92 units at Wigwamen Waabnong, located at 20 Sewells Road; 60 units at Estorada, located at 228 Galloway Road; 145 units located at the Pan Am building at 75 Cooperage Street; 115 units located at 525 Markham Road; and 41 units at Place Perrault, located at 205 Eric Czapnik Way in Ottawa.