There’s now another safety net that could catch people at risk of falling through the cracks and ending up on the street.
It’s got 45 cosy bachelor suites with lots of storage room and big windows and space enough to cook, eat, relax and live, allowing people to heal and make plans to progress in their lives.
That’s how it’s working for Shelby Milburn, one of the residents of Alouette Heights.
Milburn, 29, recently had a rough few years after her marriage broke down.
She was having a tough time keeping it together, she said Wednesday at the grand opening of the $8-million building on Brown Avenue and 222nd Street. She lost her job. She lost her apartment. “And I almost lost my daughter.”
She was trying not to wear out her welcome staying with friends and finally swallowed her pride and applied for income assistance.
That’s where she learned about Alouette Heights.
She applied and was accepted and moved into a triangular shaped studio suite with a little alcove where daughter sleeps on weekends.
With an affordable place to live, Milburn can start planning for the future.
She’s now setting goals and is going back to school.
“Knowing I have a place to call home is such an awesome experience,” she told politicians and support staff.
Thanks, she told the District of Maple Ridge, “For giving me another chance.”
Alouette Heights is staffed 24 hours a day by a support worker who helps residents stay on their plans for coping with past addictions or mental health illnesses. Each tenant will develop an individualized support plan with their support worker on entry to the project.
B.C. Housing provided both the capital to get the building done and the operating funds, while Maple Ridge provided the $1-million triangular piece of property on Brown Avenue and 222nd Street where the building’s located.
Sheila McLaughlin, former president of the Alouette Home Start Society, which operates the building, said providing people safe, secure housing “allows them to look to the future,” rather than just worry about where they’re going to sleep at night.
Residents can stay up to two years and, if employed, pay a percentage of their income in rent.
Tours were provided of the three-storey energy-efficient building. Geothermal heating means there’s no need for a natural gas connection.
The project is certified to a gold rating under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system.
MLA Marc Dalton said since 2006, B.C. Housing has provided more thatn 12,000 beds in supportive housing around the province.
“Our goal is to help people move beyond temporary housing.”
DID YOU KNOW:
According to a news release, since 2001, the B.C. government has spent $3.2 billion to provide affordable housing for low-income individuals, seniors and families. This year, more than 97,000 B.C. households will benefit from provincial social housing programs.
* In 2011-12, the B.C. government spent more than $4.2 million to provide subsidized housing and rent supplements for more than 1,100 homes in Maple Ridge.