New Affordable, Supportive Housing Allows People with Mental Illness to Live Independently
Eight residents of Prince Albert living with mental illness have safe and affordable housing, thanks to the development of Maple Ridge Apartments, a new apartment building created by the Prince Albert branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA P.A.). The building provides residents with furnished apartments, a landlord who understands their mental health issues, and a support worker to help them make the transition to independent living.
“There is a desperate need for attainable and affordable housing for all people,” said Doug Kinar, Executive Director of the CMHA P.A. “But people with mental illness have a particular barrier, because when the illness begins to manifest itself, they are more at risk of being evicted.”
Ryan Sarrazin is one of the residents. Before moving into Maple Ridge Apartments, he lived in a group home, and a foster home before that. He found that the group home limited his independence, and the imposed curfew made him feel controlled.
“Since I came here, I have become independent and responsible for myself for the first time in my life,” said Sarrazin. “I can cook and clean for myself and make my own decisions.”
The Maple Ridge Apartments are within walking distance of The Nest, a local CMHA drop-in centre that provides programming and supports, including independent living skills training, employment initiatives and meals. A support worker checks in with residents once or twice a week to help with the practical aspects of daily living, such as grocery shopping, cooking and time management.
For the housing project, the CMHA P.A. received almost $680,000 in combined federal and provincial funding under the Housing for Persons with Disabilities component of Canada’s Economic Action Plan (CEAP). The Maple Ridge Apartments project received an additional $400,000 in federal funding through Human Resources and Skills Development Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy.
Kinar considers the housing project a success. “It has added to the housing stock and is providing housing for our clients. It has also given some of the residents the first opportunity they have ever had to live on their own,” he said.