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Community project outfits affordable housing units with artwork

Calgary's first ever vacant-office-to-affordable-housing project is almost complete, and it's looking a lot brighter thanks to some new projects.

The Neoma building, which sits along 7 Avenue S.W., just unveiled Alberta's largest mural along its west-facing wall. And next month, the apartments inside will also be colourful.

The art is part of the Heart of Home initiative, which gives every resident in the 82-unit building a free piece of artwork made by a Canadian artist.

It's all part of a push to give those in need a boost during a tough time.

"Art can be so important to someone who needs help," artist Linda French said. "That's why we started this."

French brought in more than 65 Canadian artists — many from Calgary —to donate a piece.

Before they move in this fall, every Neoma family will receive one painting and every child will get one poster.

The art will be shown off during a public exhibit this weekend.

"(This is) our way of showing them that they matter, that we care about them and just to give them something special," French said. "So many people wanted to help out that I had to turn away some artists."

"It's about more than just having a roof over your head," painter Heather MacPherson said. "So each of these pieces that I'm donating are sort of about reframing your situation. Dancing in the rain."

Melissa Piercey's five donations were inspired by her own childhood in low income homes.

"A lot of people fall on hard times, and it's just that act — that small act of a hand — that can really go a long way to help building our community," she told CTV News. "For a lot of people, this might be their first stable home in a long time. I want to do something bright and really happy to really enrich their living accommodations."

Developer and property manager HomeSpace spearheaded the building transformation. It will soon be installing a resident art room into Neoma to continue to push art as a form of therapy.

The group is still looking for donations of art supplies and money.

The building will also house the new headquarters of emergency shelter Inn From the Cold. Top Stories

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