Bill Voortman values creativity, innovation and hope. He is enthused about inventive approaches and gets behind organizations willing to take risks to grow and prosper in advancing the Kingdom of God.
Indwell is one of these organizations. In 1999, Indwell, known as Homestead at the time, was at an impasse and considering whether to wind down. Homestead’s only program, a residential psychiatric rehabilitation home, was running annual deficits and drawing down its equity. Bill Voortman saw something special in this organization, grounded in Christian values, that was providing affordable housing for people on the margins of society, often because of their mental health diagnosis.
Together Bill and then Board Chair Rudy Hulst imagined a different future that would see the organization grow and become sustainable. Bill provided a second mortgage for Homestead to purchase a 40-unit apartment building at 249 Caroline St S in Hamilton. Each year Bill took stock of how things were progressing, and when he was satisfied, generously donated back the interest payment. After several years, when Bill was confident that Homestead was ready for a larger gift, he donated the balance of the mortgage. His early investment set Indwell on a new path—a path of providing supports for many more people to live independently. Through the years, Bill continued to support Indwell’s growth through prayer, advice and financial gifts from his charitable foundation.
At the end of 2019, based on a desire to honour Bill in the later season of his life, the trustees of the William Voortman Fund decided to wind down the foundation. They made this decision with thanksgiving to God for His love and care for Bill and to honour Bill’s deep desire to share his blessings in order to advance the gospel of hope in a broken world. The Trustees of the foundation decided to make a significant grant towards Indwell. In keeping with Bill’s approach, they challenged Indwell to think creatively about the future of the organization and apply the grant to live into that future with confidence.
Since the purchase of the Caroline Apartments, Indwell has expanded to 17 buildings and 11 programs with 570 apartments which provide homes for more than 600 people. Indwell has also grown regionally: from Hamilton to Woodstock in 2004, then to Simcoe in 2016, and in the last year to London. This winter we broke ground for our first building in Mississauga, and are actively investigating opportunities to provide supportive housing in other communities.
Indwell continues an ambitious growth trajectory. We currently have four buildings totalling 195 apartments under construction in Hamilton, Simcoe and Mississauga, and are in the pre-construction phase for an additional six buildings totalling 367 apartments in Hamilton, London and another possible region.
As well as growing numerically, Indwell has also increased the breadth of its programming. The purchase of the Caroline Apartments launched the organization into supported independent apartments, helping people to achieve goals while participating in an intentional community of health, wellness and belonging. More recently, Indwell has opened innovative communities that provide enhanced supports for people whose overall health needs are more complex and require additional supports to be able to move from institutions like hospitals and shelters.
The need for affordable housing with supports continues to increase across Ontario. Indwell is committed to growing to ensure all people have “hope and homes.” To enable the growth required, Indwell will use the generous grant from the William Voortman Fund for a four-year program of organizational capacity building. The grant will allow Indwell to expand our projects and development team, encourage regional expansion, support leadership development, bolster communications, increase program analysis and evaluation, and enhance information technology and data security.
Indwell is grateful Bill Voortman made the decision to generously share his blessings to support organizations like Indwell which are dedicated to sharing God’s love. We pray for wisdom and discernment as we honour Bill’s entrepreneurial spirit in living out Indwell’s values of respecting the inherent dignity of all people as image bearers of God, living out our Christian calling to love our neighbours as ourselves, and sharing the good news of hope.