A new project designed to provide housing supports for both people living with acquired brain injuries and for women transitioning out of the justice system and working towards family reunification broke ground in Prince Albert Wednesday.
The project will be operated by the Prince Albert Community Housing Society Inc. and has received funding from the provincial, federal and city governments.
The hope is the 14-unit affordable housing project will be ready by next year. It is designed to provide quality housing for eight individuals with acquired brain injury and complex needs, as well as six to 12 women exiting the justice system.
Located in the 800 Block of River Street West, it will have eight one-bedroom units (two accessible) and six two-bedroom units (one accessible.) It’s about 13,800 square feet in size.
The Prince Albert Community Housing Society (PACHS) already operates other supportive housing units for people living with an acquired brain injury. The supportive housing for women transitioning out of the justice system, though, is new for the organization.
“With the opening of these units, we’re not only helping to reduce the number of homeless in the city, but we’re also giving hard-to-house tenants, affordable, independent living units,” said Linda Boyer, PACHS manager.
“More importantly, they’re proud to have a safe and secure place they can call home.”
Boyer said supports for residents will come from the acquired brain injury team, Prince Albert mental health, NCC family services, Métis locals and the PACHS housing support worker and housing coordinators.
“Whenever we do a project, we look at what’s most needed in the city. We have done two successful projects for persons with an acquired brain injury, so we saw the need for more units,” Boyer said.
“There seems to be a need for women who come out of corrections, to get them settled into a home when they come out and have support series in place for them. The end goal is to reconcile them with their families and children and move them into affordable housing.”
According to a media release, supports for women exiting Pine Grove Correctional Centre will be provided through a support worker who will make contact with the women before their release. The support worker will assist the women with moving into a housing unit, provide support until they’re stabilized and work on family reunification.
“This (housing for women transitioning out of the correctional centre) is the first of its kind that we know of in Prince Albert,” Boyer said.
“Most definitely (those women) are overlooked. Housing is your number one. You need a roof over your head to do anything in life; a safe place to live, support services, affordable rent and people around (you). We anticipate, just like our ABI home, it will be like a small family in there.”
A theme of the day was the importance of housing for helping people live productive lives.
“Soon, this project will provide safe, quality housing for eight people…that have complex care needs, along with almost a dozen women…looking to rebuild their lives and rebuild their family,” said Lana Kopp of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
“Projects like this support people who, too many times, face barriers to finding safe and affordable housing that meets their needs. Nothing is more important than a home.”
Deputy Mayor Don Cody, who spoke on behalf of the city, also stressed the importance of providing a stable place to live.
“People have done their time. It’s important that we find a spot for them after they get out (so they will not) offend again. Give them a nice place to live, and a home, and they will meld into society. I think that’s extremely important when people come out of incarceration,” he said.
“If they don’t have access (to a home), they might get into places you don’t want them and they might once again find things that aren’t that good for them.”
Boyer said projects like this one are only possible because of funding support. Without that help, it would be too expensive to build housing and charge affordable rent. The federal and provincial governments are contributing up to $980,000 towards the project. The city is providing $30,000, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation approved an additional $105,000.
“I’m very pleased to be here…to break ground for another new and exciting project right here in Prince Albert” said MLA Joe Hargrave, who spoke on behalf of the provincial government.
“This initiative is another great example of how much can be achieved when we work together to build a better province for everyone. We are all responsible for good housing outcomes and I congratulate everyone who has worked so hard to make this day possible.”
The project is also supported by the Provincial Métis Housing Corporation (PMHC), which contributed $500,000 through the NHS Aboriginal Homelessness Funding Stream. While the project is tailored towards Indigenous peoples, it is open to anyone, Boyer said.
“Our contribution to the project is something that is very important not just to the Métis people of Saskatchewan but nationally, as we look to end homelessness and provide housing to those who are most vulnerable,” said Shane Pelletier of the PMHC.
“When we’re looking at projects, one of the gaps we see is…exits out of services like corrections or health. This project really hits on those intersections…providing housing that is so needed in that space.”