Rev. Don Mayne
EDMONTON — The chronically homeless tenants of Canora Place do not fit a stereotype.
Some are recovering from a divorce or job loss, while others have struggled with addictions, domestic violence or mental illness. At least 60 per cent have aboriginal ancestry.
The one common trait among the Canora Place residents is they now have a place to call home.
Canora Place, located at 10141-153 St., is a three-storey apartment complex, comprised of 30 self-contained units. The complex includes 15 bachelor suites, 14 one-bedroom suites and one two-bedroom suite.
Assistance will be provided to enable tenants to maintain an independent residence. Support workers will help them with necessary skills for self-sufficient living such as budgeting, shopping, menu planning and health care.
The west-side housing project, supported by Edmonton churchgoers at Christmas 2010 through the No Room in the Inn campaign, was opened March 24. The project is sponsored by Jasper Health and Wellness Centre.
Alberta Housing Minister Jonathan Denis said the province's Housing First initiative moves homeless people from the streets or homeless shelters into their own apartments. Because of the program, use of homeless shelters has declined and more than 3,000 previously homeless Albertans have been housed.
"Shelters are important, but at the same time it's the difference between managing the problem and ending the problem," said Denis.
Both the federal and provincial governments and Homeward Trust support the project. Homeward Trust is a community-based housing organization that provides leadership and resources towards ending homelessness in Edmonton. Homeward Trust contributed $1.8 million through the federal government's Homelessness Partnering Strategy.
The Alberta government gave $4.2 million. The provincial government's goal is to end homelessness in Alberta by 2019.
"With that support, and the participation of the partner organizations, we're confident that Canora Place will make a positive impact in the lives of its residents, and the community as a whole," said Susan McGee, executive director of Homeward Trust.
The Rev. Don Mayne said No Room in the Inn began in 1999 as an effort by local churches to help build inner city housing.
In 2009, about 55 churches participated in the campaign, raising $62,500 for Edmonton Inner City Housing.
"This year we don't have the final figures, but the last I'd heard we already received over $55,000, so we may set yet another record hopefully," said Mayne.