Helping to House the Homeless in Prince Albert
Avenue Living Communities is helping the homeless in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. By partnering with unique programs from the YWCA Prince Albert, the multi-family rental company is providing 95 reduced-rate residential units for previously homeless people in the community.
Brian Venn, Regional Property Manager for Avenue Living in Prince Albert, said Avenue Living is supporting two programs with the YWCA – Homeward Bound and Kindred Spirit.
The people Avenue Living helps through these programs are those who have been dealt a difficult hand in life or have recently gone through a hardship, often leaving them without a stable place to live. Homelessness is a cyclical issue that exacerbates addiction and crime, and these people benefit greatly from a safe, affordable place to call home.
“The Homeward Bound program takes in people in need, who are suffering from a range of difficulties. It provides housing and helps rehabilitate them. They’ve got a community kitchen, schools and a daycare,” said Venn.
“Kindred Spirit is a mother/child program designed to keep families together. After going through a tough time, there’s a period of reintegration into society. It’s helping people be parents.”
Avenue Living provides the housing and maintenance for those two programs in three residential buildings, which are fully occupied.
“It originally started with five units and two staff. Now they are up to 95 units and 70 staff members on hand to help with the program. It is staffed 24 hours a day. They have their own offices, their own accounting. And they have nurses and teachers,” said Venn.
“The three buildings are in one location, side-by-side. They have a big common area with a gazebo, fire pit and playground for the kids. They have a teepee set up there. They’ve done all kinds of stuff to create a community of the three buildings.”
“It’s really busy,” said Venn. “They usually have 40 to 50 people on a waiting list just to get into this program. There’s a high demand for it.”
Dave Hobden, Manager of the Homeward Bound program, said the program has been in operation for about six years. The relationship with Avenue Living began in September 2015.
“We wouldn’t be able to do it without Avenue Living’s support,” he said. “The rent that the Ministry provides each one of these individuals is not enough to house them. But more than that, it is the support of Avenue Living, and working with Brian (Venn). He’s so willing to think outside the box and do things that are innovative. It really has been a fantastic partnership.”
Venn said Avenue Living believes it’s important to support the communities where they operate residential units.
“A lot of these residents have never had their own place before. They’ve never had a roof over their head. They’ve never had any kind of support. Avenue Living gives them a place to rebuild their lives,” added Venn.
Within its portfolio of nearly 10,000 multi–family units, Avenue Living is pleased to work with over 40 housing groups such as Homeward Bound and Kindred Spirit across its 17 markets in the Prairies.