CMHA relieved to open new affordable housing fourplex in Prince Albert

Canadian Mental Health Association Prince Albert branch executive director Doug Kinar (left) and Prince Albert Northcote MLA Alana Ross (right) receive help with the ribbon cutting from a Simpson House resident (centre) during the official opening on Wednesday, June 7. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Prince Albert residents struggling with their mental health will have improved access to affordable housing thanks to a new two-level fourplex that officially opened on Wednesday.

The fourplex is located at 475 27th Street East in Prince Albert, and will provide housing and support for four residents experiencing mental illness. Doug Kinar, the executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Prince Albert branch said it’s a relief to have the doors finally open.

“It’s been quite a process over the last 10 years,” Kinar said. “It’s a chance to relax (and) enjoy the new renovations.”

The CMHA renovated the property with assistance from the provincial and federal governments through the Canada-Saskatchewan Bilateral Agreement under the National Housing Strategy. CMHA Prince Albert received roughly $450,000 in assistance.

Kinar welcomed the support since affordable housing is a significant concern in the city.

“We have a waiting list of about five or 10 people on an ongoing basis who are looking (for housing),” he said. “I get phone calls every month wondering if we have any vacancies.”

Kinar said previous CMHA-Prince Albert housing projects have been successful in getting homeless residents off the street. Their first apartment block opened to eight residents in 2010, and four of the original tenants are still there.

CMHA-Prince Albert now operates five properties totaling 27 housing units for residents living with mental illness. Kinar said the goal is to provide something that’s affordable and accommodating.

“We don’t worry about late rent because we know it’s coming,” he said. “It’s just a matter of being patient and allowing for any hiccups that happen along the road.”

Prince Albert Northcote MLA Alana Ross was on hand to represent Social Services Minister Gene Makowsky at the ribbon cutting. Ross said the government is happy to see new housing units like this one since there’s such a strong demand in the community.

“People need to have safe affordable housing,” she said.

“We see it in government as important work that we work with agencies to help provide that service in our community.”

The new four-plex will be named Simpson House after a past CMHA-Prince Albert board president. They spent one year looking for the right location before purchasing the property and spending five months renovating it.