Housing opens for those with acquired brain injuries

Tyler Clarke
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Those with acquired brain injuries have another service at their disposal with Prince Albert Community Housing Society’s latest project.


The first tenants of the society’s $2.3-million, 10-unit building at 465 Seventh Street East, called Whisper Way, will begin moving into their units on Thursday.

“We’re quite excited about it,” society manager Linda Boyer said while touring the facility this week.

The first facility of its kind in Prince Albert, the federal government covered 90 per cent of its construction costs, Boyer said, noting that it’s catered to people with acquired brain injuries in a couple of ways.

On both of its floors is a common area where they can meet with one another as well as case workers.

“These are people who live on their own -- they just need support,” Boyer said. “They have their programming and coffee row.”

Although those living at the facility are able to live independently, they benefit from regular visits by caseworkers, Boyer explained.

“In a lot of cases with (acquired brain injuries), they need socialization -- the companionship -- and we thought it was important to have a place for them to get together and play games and have their coffee, visit and watch TV.”

The affordability of the units -- between $575 and $700 per month, plus electricity -- is also of benefit to people with acquired brain injuries, in that in some cases they are unable to find full time or well-paying employment.

“A lot of them can’t work at a regular job, but they do have the odd job they do, and they keep busy,” Boyer said. “When I say it’s for acquired brain injuries, if it’s not full then we take people with other challenges -- people who need support.”

"You get very little funding, and rent is out of reach," Acquired Brain Injury outreach team leader Jolene Hunter told the Daily Herald when ground broke on the project. "It's ridiculous, the cost of rent."

A combination of the Prince Albert Community Housing Society structure and funding from the federal government has allowed them to keep rent prices low enough to classify the facility as “affordable,” Boyer said.

Housing is considered affordable when it is below market rent, which for a one-bedroom unit is currently hovering around the $800 mark in Prince Albert, she explained.

Impressed with the latest addition to the ward he represents, Coun. Lee Atkinson said that he’s thankful for the society was able to fill what was previously an underutilized empty lot.

“I think it’s a positive thing for the neighbourhood, it’s a reinvestment in the neighbourhood and the building is certainly stellar,” he said. “I think it’s a very nice-looking building.”

The impressive finished product appears to have put the neighbourhood’s initial worries at bay, Atkinson said.

When the project was at the proposal stage, public consultation was somewhat lacking, with the neighbourhood kept in the dark as to its specifics.

These are people who live on their own -- they just need support. Linda Boyer

Since then, Atkinson said city administration have improved their policies in order to make such developments more transparent with the public.

Although the acquired brain injury building fell under the old public consultation structure, Atkinson said that he hasn’t fielded any complaints from residents since the building took shape.

“I think people, more so, it’s been that other aspect of (saying), ’That’s a wonderful looking building,’” he said.

“It’s very attractive, and I think anyone would love to live in such a space.”

The challenge now is the building next door to Whisper Way -- a burnt-out house to the east that east-facing windows and balconies look onto.

Uninhabitable for almost two years, Atkinson said that the eyesore is a shame when put in contrast with the brand new facility next door.

“That’s quite the view,” Boyer sarcastically noted while looking out one of the apartment’s balcony windows.

City manager Jim Toye said that the situation surrounding the fire-damaged building is a “spider web” of problems, from insurance company claims to legalities and engineer report delays.

But, he said that he’s confident that the building will finally meet its end sometime this year. 

Organizations: Daily Herald, Prince Albert Community Housing Society

Geographic location: 465 Seventh Street East

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Recent comments

  • Ken Collins
    February 26, 2014 - 15:19

    Great to see! As a VISTA Volunteer I helped create the first brain Injury transitional living program in the US. The Uhlhorn Apartmnets program is in it's 23rd year of operation and looks a lot like Whisper Way. There needs to be more apartments like this for people with brain injuries all over and in every community. For more info contact: Lori Dunnihoo: ldunnihoo@sheltercare.org