COMMUNITY PLANS - Yu-Turn Housing Coordinator Char Lockhart displays the design for the home for Phase 1 of the supported independence housing project last year.

Supported independence housing project launches

Lacombe at-risk youth to see benefits of local program

She first looked at the plans well over two years ago, but soon they will be a reality.

A home in Lacombe, through Central Alberta Youth Unlimited (CAYU), will be transformed into a residence for four youth, as part of a supported independence housing project.

Char Lockhart, YU-Turn Housing coordinator, and other community members have been working on the project over the past few years and are cognisant of the bigger picture in the City — meeting the need for affordable housing.

“There is just so much potential,” she said. “There is such a big need for affordable housing in general and currently there is no affordable housing with wrap around supports in the City of Lacombe, so we are really excited to offer that.”

The supported independence housing project, in a nutshell, will be offering affordable housing to four males, aged 16 to 24, who are considered ‘at risk’ and need a hand up.

“It’s not just a roof over their heads,” said Lockhart. “We offer full programming for them to go from wherever they are at to become healthy independent community contributors. That will include connecting with employment services, some things like how to make a budget, how to cook a meal, grocery shopping and helping them through their education.”

The wrap around program will also assist participants emotionally, by taking steps towards healthy living through partnering with mental health services, councillors and addictions services.

“We will help them get to a spot where they have a really strong support network so that when they leave the home, they can be healthy and independent,” said Lockhart.

Participants are predicted to stay in the home for 12 to 18 month periods, or multiple years if needed. Although there is not an official waiting list, through community engagement, CAYU has indicated there are at least to 40 potential applicants for the program.

The cost of a bed to a participant is $500 per month, with a majority of the portion of the housing costs being subsidized by CAYU through other means, to keep it at an affordable rate.

“The beds cost a lot more, so we are looking for bed sponsors,” added Lockhart.

Businesses, groups or individuals can sponsor a bed, or even a room in the home to assist in the costs of running the home and getting the project off the ground.

“Now as we get ready, there are some renovations we need to do at the house,” explained Lockhart. “We are looking for some skilled hands who are willing to come and help to redo the shingles as well as redo a portion of the roof.”

There are also other work projects inside the house, such as painting and filling in holes that need to be completed during the end of July and the first week of August to ensure the house is ready.

The house will tentatively open for program participants on Sept. 1st.

Phase 2, a second house, is also in the works that would potentially offer support for co-eds or females with eight to 10 beds.

The CAYU supported independence housing project is one of two affordable housing projects approved by the City council during their last meeting.

The City’s Affordable Housing Strategy began as a proactive approach to work towards meeting the affordable housing needs of the community.

“We need to develop successful strategies that can help meet the affordable housing shortfall identified in the Lacombe Housing Strategy,” said Mayor Steve Christie. “The City is not looking to become a direct housing supplier, but rather our resources will be focused on creating an environment that enables the community to provide more affordable housing.”

Community and Economic Development Manager Guy Lapointe, who sits on the Affordable Housing Steering Committee, said council has chosen the two projects, the other being with Habitat for Humanity, and the City hopes to partner on other projects moving forward.

“That’s the hope, that we will be able to do more into the future too,” he said. “If we can partner with groups, it will increase the total funds available to contribute and have a greater impact.”

The group at CAYU is excited now that the project is going to be a reality in less than two months. “It doesn’t just change one person’s life,” said Lockhart. “It has the potential to change their existing family. It certainly has the potential to change the next generation. It also creates community contributors.

“We have people who are needing support and then they are moving through a process where they can actually become a support to others. I’m really excited about that and I’m excited to see what it’s like for a neighbourhood to have these people who are intentionally serving in their neighbourhood.”

On July 17th from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. a’ first look’ event will be held at the home for those interested in becoming a room or bed sponsor and for those who are interested in helping out at house.

On Aug. 19th from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. a community house warming party will be held at the home. Individuals in the community are invited to attend, check out the house and enjoy a barbecue.

For more information about the supported independence housing project contact CAYU at 403-789-2298.

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