Removing the homeless from the harsh elements of the streets and putting a roof over their head is proving to be making a world of difference.
My Place, the supportive housing facility at 2600 53th St., is celebrating one year since opening its doors with stories of success.
“Supportive housing was a completely new concept to us at Turning Points,” site manager Shelley Kiefiuck said. “Honestly, the successes we have experienced here, they exceed what my expectations were or what I was thinking was going to happen.
“The importance of having a roof over their head, where they’re not in survival mode and they’re not worried about staying dry and keeping warm or having food in their belly, gives them the opportunity to address other areas of their life where they haven’t had the space or time to do that.”
The 52-unit facility has retained nearly 82 per cent of the initial residents who walked through the doors one year ago.
“There’s others who have moved onto to alternate housing — and that is the ultimate goal.”
But for some, it wasn’t a right fit. Some that have moved out required more mental health support than My Place could provide.
But each resident has been responsible for their own way, including their own success.
“With supportive housing, it’s not a free ride,” said Kiefiuck, who has been with Turning Points for 11 years.
“They pay rent, they have an expectation around creating service plans with staff. Expectations that they are doing everything they can to do the hard work.”
And the residents have done just that, proving they can be a good neighbour and a contributing member of the community.
“We need to give them a lot of credit for that,” Kiefiuck said.
For many, giving back is a huge part of the process, said Kiefiuck, who was born and raised in Enderby.
“Again, because they have the time and space it has given the ability, they’re advocates now for people who are still on the streets and are still struggling and feel like they’re hopeless and they have no where to go, nowhere to turn.”
And they also take pride in their new home.
“All the beautiful gardens and things that you see here, this is not staff, we don’t have a gardener, this is all the residents. There’s incredible pride in this facility itself.”
Having a place to call home has opened many doors for the residents.
“We’ve had folks that have been needing surgery for years, but how do you go have major surgery when you are being released into a camp?” questioned Kiefiuck.
“There are parents here who are needing that stable address and that stability themselves to be able to reach out and hopefully get their children back.”
With more than 250 people on the wait list to get into My Place, the recent news of additional supportive housing is welcomed.
Especially since the issue of homelessness is not easing anytime soon.
“The biggest issue is housing affordability, it is the cost of living,” Kiefiuck said the main reason homelessness is becoming a larger issue. “But we see all kinds of things every day why people end up in the shelter — loss of a job, loss of a loved one, mental health issues, substance use issues.
“Try going without three paycheques,” she said. “You’re going to be in trouble.”
As Vernon builds on support for these individuals, Kiefiuck denies that others are flocking to the area in search of such support.
“The vast majority of the folks that are housed here have connections to the community of Vernon,” she said of those raised here or who have family here.
“It’s a very large percentage of people. Their roots are here,” Kiefiuck said. “They are from this community.”