“This has been two years in the making,” said a jubilant Shelley Howard.
Two years of effort by the Campbell River Head Injury Support Society has resulted in the purchase of a home of their own. The group bought the former Hillcrest Store at the corner of Dogwood and 9th Avenue and plan to turn it into office and program space along with four rental suites to provide much-needed housing for clients of the organization.
“People with brain injuries fall through the cracks,” said Howard, executive director of the CRHISS. “Some have mental health issues…so they don’t get the funding they need. Some live on the streets while some ‘couch surf.’”
Now CRHISS clients can rent one of the suites on a scale based on their income. The housing is needed, Howard said, because many people with brain injuries are difficult to rent to and end up on the streets.
“They are not ideal tenants,” Howard said.
The CRHISS has 130 clients, including about 50 people who drop into their current office space on a regular basis.
The society spent the last two years applying for grants and soliciting donations from groups like the Willow Point Lions which handed over a $1,000 cheque to the society on Tuesday.
Their fundraising efforts allowed them to put a downpayment on the $295,000 property.
Now the fundraising focuses on covering the costs of renovating the building. If all goes according to plan, the society expects to open their new doors in the spring.
Besides the office space and suites, the group intends to rip up half the asphalt on the corner property and put in a garden area and other landscaping improvements. The corner will be all but unrecognizable, compared to the abandoned, boarded-up and graffiti-scrawled former corner store that sits on the lot now.
“It’s going to be a drastically improved corner,” Howard said.
What Howard and office manager Jean Allen are also looking forward to is the visibility that the location will give them.
“We still have people going ‘I didn’t know you guys were here,’” Howard said.
Now they will be on one of the most visible corners in town.