September 9, 2016 3:31 pm
Updated: September 9, 2016 9:47 pm

Edmonton opens first-of-its-kind housing facility for people with FASD

WATCH ABOVE: Finding permanent homes for many people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder can be difficult, but Edmonton is leading the way. A first-of-its-kind program is helping dozens get the support they need and a roof over their head. Kendra Slugoski reports.

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It’s the first housing development of its kind in Canada. Friday marked the opening of Hope Terrace in Edmonton, the country’s first supportive housing development that provides around-the-clock support for people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

The joint venture between Bissell Centre and Homeward Trust was unveiled on International FASD Awareness Day. It’s hoped the facility will help support those with FASD, while achieving their joint goal of ending homelessness.

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“FASD is a complex reality and the most critical thing we can do is create awareness and work to get upstream of this issue for the long-term,” Gary St. Amand, Bissell Centre CEO, said.

“There remains the difficult truth that there are many people who are impacted by FASD and as a result, may have significant barriers to maintaining their housing.”

READ MORE: Looking at different ways to help the most vulnerable in Edmonton

“There is a critical need of permanent supportive housing in our city that provides the appropriate supports in a harm reduction environment,” Susan McGee, CEO of Homeward Trust Edmonton, said. “Thanks to projects like Hope Terrace and partners like Bissell Centre, we will achieve the goal of ending homelessness in Edmonton.”

The City of Edmonton and province of Alberta helped fund Hope Terrace, which can provide support to up to 24 people. Services include aboriginal programming, assistance with attending medical appointments, mental health supports and guidance on how to integrate into the community.

READ MORE: Homelessness down in Alberta; majority of homeless found in Calgary

Casandra, whose last name will not be published to help protect her identity, has been homeless for three years. She lives with FASD and found out about Hope Terrace through her social worker. Casandra said the support she receives from the staff at the facility is imperative to her wellbeing, particularly as she heads back to school.

“Being homeless was the worst experience of my life, being hungry, not able to sleep, and always scared,” she explained. “Hope Terrace is a place to call home and the program has pushed me to keep going and to keep my head up.”

The 2016 Edmonton homeless count is being held on Oct. 19 and 20. Pat Mackenzie Homeward Trust expects numbers to be down slightly from the last count in 2014.

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