December 19, 2017 6:47 pm
Updated: December 20, 2017 11:48 am

Larger families get affordable housing help with new Journey House 2 project

A number of Calgary philanthropists and community organizations were instrumental in the funding of Inn from the Cold's Journey House 2.

John Himpe / Global News
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The oldest of Adriana Chow’s three boys has never had a bedroom of his own. But when the family of four moves into Inn from the Cold’s new Journey House 2 affordable housing complex next month, the 12-year-old will have a space to call his own.

“It will lessen the stress,” Chow said. “Less butting heads for the boys.”

Families like Chow’s are exactly who Inn from the Cold had in mind when developing the new 10-unit affordable housing complex in Crescent Heights.

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“According to the city’s own data, 76 per cent of all affordable housing in Calgary is two bedroom or smaller,” said executive director Abe Brown. “Any family that has two children or more is essentially made to stay in homelessness longer than they would need to if we had more larger-unit sizes.”

READ MORE: Eight-year-old boy gives local family shelter a much-needed boost

The development is the second affordable housing project of its kind from Inn from the Cold.

A mortgage from the Calgary Foundation paid for the structure, while donations from the Calgary Real Estate Board Charitable Foundation and the Gerald A. Cooper-Key Foundation funded the extensive renovations that were needed to get the building ready for its new residents.

“It’s profound to see how many Calgarians really care about each other,” Brown said of the community support. “Sometimes we hear about NIMBY-ism and things like that, and I’m sure it’s out there, but the vast majority of Calgarians we deal with are overwhelmingly generous and inclusive, and [they] care about these issues.”

Projects like Journey House 2 are something the president and CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation has said are needed, regardless of how some communities feel.

“There’ve been a lot of things in the news lately, including Inn from the Cold looking at potentially moving their site to make it better for children,” said Diana Krescy. “There’ve been other agencies moving housing. And there’s a resistance in communities to have this move forward.”

Krescy called on those at the opening of Journey House 2 to tackle NIMBY-ism head on.

“Every single time a family, a child, an individual is left on the street and has to prove they have human rights and the right to be housed, that says more about us as a community of citizens than it does about that vulnerable family,” Krescy said.

“Will we be the ones who stand up in our community and say, ‘Yes, we want people in our neighbourhood?’ or, ‘No, we don’t want them in our backyard.’ Because nobody deserves… to have to live in a backyard. That’s what’s happening — families with kids in cars parked on streets; individuals in alleys behind dumpsters.

“Yet we sit in some communities and go, ‘not the right project for here. Not quite what we were looking for [in] our demographic.'”

READ MORE: As long as people say ‘not in my backyard,’ homelessness will keep growing: Surrey advocate

Prospective residents are identified through the Coordinated Access and Assessment Process. Once living at Journey House, residents pay 30 per cent of their income to rent their unit. The difference is made up through funding from the Calgary Homeless Foundation.

To make sure families are able to move on, a wide range of programming is offered right in the complex.”

“If they need education, we want to work with them to help them get an education,” said Brown. “If they need affordable child care so that they can work, we want to work with them so they can do that. If they need to learn parenting skills or life skills, we want to do all those pieces as well.”

READ MORE: Inn From The Cold family shelter has been at overcapacity for most of 2016

The length of time families spend living at Journey House can range from two to six years, with an eye toward independence.

“My ultimate goal is to find housing for myself and sustain it on my own,” Chow said. “I’d like to live on my own with my boys in my own place.”

“It makes me happy that I can provide for my family on my own and can manage day by day living and not have to rely on other people as much.”

Chow and her neighbours will begin to move into Journey House 2 in January.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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