Campbell River Head Injury Society in desperate need for more housing units

The Campbell River Brain Injury Society is being inundated with requests for housing and is being forced to turn people away.

“We have a 30-plus waitlist right now for supports for individuals with brain injuries and we constantly have at least 10 people a week coming in asking ‘is there any housing?’” Shelley Howard, executive director of the Head Injury Society, told city council at its meeting Monday. “So it’s something we are really eager on looking at – other alternatives.”

The society recently opened up two apartment buildings on the corner of 16th Avenue and Petersen Road.

Each apartment has 11 suites for a total of 20 one-bedroom living quarters and two bachelors.

The city provided $34,000 towards the purchase of the buildings which are used as long-term care homes for individuals with brain injuries.

The initiative complements Hillcrest House, located at 9th Avenue and Dogwood Street, which includes office space for the society and temporary housing for up to four clients.

But Howard said it’s not enough.

“We have a call for proposals out to look at the lot next door or the lot on the other side of the corner of where we are on 9th and Dogwood to create more options,” she said.

“This one is for individuals and families because right now we don’t have anything (for multiple residents) so we’ve kind of supported families in a one-bedroom apartment which is kind of tough.”

Howard added that the society is also looking to add more office space below the new apartments and create a community centre space on the property.

“There’s a need,” Howard told council, noting that the city has recently been struggling with how best to serve the community’s homeless population. “Brain injury is one of the strong components of being homeless.

“We’d like to keep individuals with brain injuries off of the streets and out of hospitals. It costs just over $1,000-a-day to keep someone in the hospital because they can’t be let out in the community because they’re not safe.”

Howard added that the apartments provided by the Head Injury Society offer transitional housing that helps residents continue to receive life skills and financial support long-term.

The housing is affordable and is offered on an income-based rent. Residents at both Hillcrest House and the Campbellton apartments have access to a support worker.

The society sees more than 100 clients on an ongoing basis, providing them with medical, physical and emotional support. Howard reminded council that no one is immune to brain injury.

“Brain injury can happen at any time, to any one,” she said. “It doesn’t pick favourites.”

According to the society, brain injury is present in 53 per cent of homeless populations, as well as up to 87 per cent of incarcerated populations.

It also places a substantial burden on the healthcare system.

By 2031, traumatic brain injury will be the most prevalent neurological condition.

Indirect economic costs due to working-age disability will increase and will be greatest for hospitalized traumatic brain injury, rising from $7.3 billion in 2011 to $8.2 billion in 2031.