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Homelessness coalition steps up to the plate

Women who have fled abuse are receiving the support they need at Palmer Place thanks to a new staff member funded by the city’s Homelessness Coalition.

The coalition forwarded $15,000 to the Campbell River and North Island Transition Society to hire one part-time support worker to help the 16 vulnerable women and children who are living at Palmer Place.

Paul Mason, chair of the Homelessness Coalition, said funding support staff was a top priority for the coalition.

“We have a lot of clients who are in the early stage of recovery – addiction recovery – so it’s very important that they have the support there that they need. So we decided as a coalition that it’s definitely a worthwhile project for us.”

Valery Puetz, executive director of the Transition Society, said the position is 12 hours per week and runs until April 2013. The worker is there to complement the Campbell River and District Association for Community Living’s activities worker. Both positions are part-time, but combined there is someone to work with the tenants five days a week.

“Her role is to provide support to the tenants in whatever way needed, it’s really directed to the individual,” Puetz says. “What we’ve found is what we’ve needed in a big way is transportation, because of the distance from Palmer Place to downtown.”

Palmer Place is on Nikola Road and to get to the nearest bus stop residents have to walk 1.5  kilometres down busy Willis Road, which has no sidewalks, to the nearest bus stop on Petersen.

“We have women who need to go downtown daily so she can provide transportation so it doesn’t take the full day that it would on the bus,” Puetz says.

The main objective behind having the support worker is to offer assistance to the women that should be in second stage housing, what Rose Harbour – which is in the process of being built – will be once it opens. The support worker at Palmer Place will be moved to Rose Harbour.

“Rose Harbour will have a fair bit of support attached to it so tenants at Palmer Place can move into there when it opens if they need it,” Puetz says. “Palmer Place, what we call third stage housing, is for people who are fairly stable and primarily look after themselves. Second stage being Rose Harbour. So the process is kind of backwards, we ended up housing a fair bit of people at Palmer Place until Rose Harbour opens.”

Palmer Place is actually operated by the Association of Community Living and partners with the Campbell River and North Island Transition Society so it has access to 16 units for women using the services of the Transition Society. The rest of the units – eight to be exact – provide housing for adults with disabilities who are clients of the Association of Community Living.

Puetz says for many of the tenants, Palmer Place is a permanent home.

“Palmer Place is potentially permanent housing,” she says. “The site of Palmer Place is beautiful. It’s rural, it’s pretty.”

And the ground-level, fully-accessible units are built to gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. There’s also an edible community garden.

The $5.2 million housing complex officially opened in July which was largely funded by the province, to the tune of $4.8 million, to build and operate. The Association for Community Living provided the land, valued at $425,000.

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