Supportive housing for single women, young adults set to open this month in Charlottetown

·4 min read

A new supportive housing complex in Charlottetown should welcome its first tenants by the end of the month, according to officials with the province.

The building includes 18 furnished units, and instead of catering to young families and young adults as was announced back in February of 2019, it will serve single women and young adults.

Ten of the units will be for women who are currently accessing emergency housing at Anderson House, through P.E.I. Family Violence Prevention Services.

Two of those units will be left unfurnished for women who have furniture of their own.

'There's no place for them to go'

"Sometimes at Anderson House, the clients that are there, there's no place for them to go, so they end up having to stay at Anderson House longer than they need to," said Sonya Cobb, director of housing services for the province.

"So having this transitional housing available allows them to leave emergency housing and move to a safe environment to support them as they move on in terms of the next steps for their life."

Anderson House will be overseeing programming for this section of the building, and officials say those supports will range from mental health to assistance with employment.

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC
Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

"When you're dealing with violence and trauma, it is important to understand that you're kind of in it for the long haul," said Danya O'Malley, executive director of P.E.I. Family Violence Prevention Services.

"They are meant to be transitional units, but our timeframe isn't always that kind of quick turnaround, and understandably we try to work with people on a case-by-case basis."

O'Malley said the units are for single women who either do not have children, have children who are in the care of others, or whose children are grown, but the women themselves are too young to qualify for seniors housing.

"That population has been really our very hardest to house safely and affordably," said O'Malley, who said this type of housing for single women has been urgently needed for a long time.

"We are just beyond delighted about that, and it's another piece of the pie that goes to really filling some gaps, and it means a lot that people are listening to where the sticking points are in the system, and how we best address that and get people literally with a roof over their head."

Transitioning out of care

The other 10 units are reserved for young people who are now at least 18, and are transitioning out of the care of the province, whether that be from foster care or group homes.

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC
Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

"When they turn 18, they're considered an adult," said Cobb.

"And our legislation doesn't permit them to stay with our underage children in our current facilities. So this building has 10 units that's been designated for their use, and our child and family services division will be supporting those young adults in terms of transitioning from the provincial system into their adult lives."

Those supports will include learning how to budget, how to enter the job market, educational supports, and basic skills like cooking, cleaning, and how to be a good tenant, all to prepare them for success in their adult life.

Cobb said, for now, a staff member will be on-site during the day to assist with the transition, so only nine units will be available to young people in the initial phase.

Housing 'first of its kind' on P.E.I.

Rent for the units will be 25 per cent of the tenant's income, similar to what is done in social housing units across the province.

Cobb said this is the first building of its kind on the Island, and it will be a learning process for everyone involved.

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC
Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

"So we'll be learning from P.E.I. Family Violence Prevention Services, we'll be learning from our child family services division, and we'll be learning from the people who move in here and can provide lots of feedback to us in terms of, you know, how does it work for them, and what would they suggest if we were to have another project of this type," said Cobb.

The housing is intended to be short-term, but Cobb said there's no firm cap on how long individuals can stay. The goal will be to offer the support they need, and make sure they are ready to live independently.

The overall budget for the building was $2.7 million. The federal government gave $900,000 and the province contributed $1.8 million.

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