Shawn Kuin loves the view he has from his new third-floor apartment. It looks out onto a tree-lined road, caked with freshly dropped autumn leaves. It’s his favourite part, he said. That, and the freedom of having his own space.
In mid-October the Victoria Cool Aid Society opened up 15 new affordable rental apartments for seniors at its Mount Edwards Court property at 1002 Vancouver St. This is in addition to the 78 supportive housing units on the first and second floors of the building.
Kuin moved into the 3o0-square-foot unit only two weeks ago after living downstairs for two years.
Before that, Kuin was hit with some rough times.
“I had the rug pulled out from under me,” he said. “For six months I ended up going to the shelters, sleeping on mats.”
It was in the shelters that he applied for housing with Cool Aid, which opened the first two floors of the Mount Edward property in 2016 to seniors with low-acuity needs.
In the supportive units, medication could be provided, as well as basic health needs. Meals were prepared and social services were also on hand to help with services such as resume writing.
By mid-October Cool Aid finished renovating the third floor of the building, and opened it up to low-income seniors who could live more independently.
Kuin was offered a spot, which he took with delight.
“The ability to determine my own use of time is greatly appreciated,” he said. “And, I can get much more sleep.”
The only two requirements for the residents of the third floor are that they are over 55 years of age, and make a maximum of $34,500 for a studio suite or $39,800 for a one-bedroom suite. Rent is $700 for the studios and $800 to $950 for the one-bedroom units.
Kuin’s studio space is snug, but is enough for him and offers him his own kitchen, though he adds he needs to better learn how to cook.
He has some important plans for the space, however.
“I’m thinking instead of a bedroom unit I’d turn it more into an office, because I want to go to school,” he said. “I want to study law.”
Currently Kuin is continuing his work at the Our Place Society and taking prerequisite courses.
“These kinds of units help prevent homelessness,” said Alan Rycroft, communications manager for Cool Aid. “By preventing homeless it’s better for the person, for the community and it saves on money for taxpayers.”
Rycroft added that there are still several units available on the third floor, and that applicants can apply in person at 101-749 Pandora Ave. from Monday to Friday between 9 and 11 a.m. and 1 to 3:30 p.m.
As well as the 15 new units, as of Nov. 1, Cool Aid opened up its temporary shelter space at the Downtown Community Centre, which will provide nighttime mats for 40 adults until the end of March. An additional 20 mats at Rock Bay Landing were added as part of an extreme weather response.
For more information you can visit coolaid.org.