Smooth transition

Men's transitional house open in Nanaimo this October.

Nanaimo Transitional Housing Society board members Leanne Salter

Nanaimo Transitional Housing Society board members Leanne Salter

Five homeless men could soon have a roof over their heads thanks to a new transitional house opening this October.

The Nanaimo Transitional Housing Society, a branch of the Victoria Human Exchange, is opening Esther’s House early next month.

Esther’s house was created through a generous donation by the Sisters of St. Anne and private donations. The Human Exchange is a grassroots community movement created in Victoria more than 19 years ago to help support and advocate for people, as well as provide shelter and family-type housing for individuals.

The Nanaimo home, located on Kennedy Street, has five bedrooms for residents and one for a facilitator who will act as a mentor.

The facilitator will help connect people to services, such as mental health, alcoholics anonymous groups and more. Different social services organizations will also be invited in to facilitate groups and teach residents life skills, such as financial management or cooking skills.

“I know five or six beds aren’t going to take the pressure off homelessness in the area, but it’s a beginning,” said Leanne Salter, chairwoman of the society.

Salter said there are many people in need in Nanaimo.

“Counting homeless people is like counting stars – just because you don’t see them on the street doesn’t mean that they aren’t homeless,” she said.

Each resident will sign an occupancy agreement and no drugs and alcohol use is permitted. Salter said the idea is to create a home where residents can experience stability and start focusing on improving their situation.

“It helps people to learn and not live is a crisis driven situation that a lot of people are coming from,” said Salter.

Elaine Blanco, a Nanaimo Transitional Housing Society board member, said she believes in giving people who want it support and a hand up and having a home is an important step.

“You can’t move forward if you don’t have adequate shelter and a clean and safe place to live, that’s foundational to basic needs,” she said.

Men can stay up to six months and if more time is needed their situation will be reviewed and a possible extension could be given. Each resident will be charged about $375 to $400 for rent, depending on their income. There are also heated pens in the backyard for residents who have pets.

The society is also currently creating a women’s transitional house in the same neighbourhood, although it doesn’t know when the home will open.

Volunteer Janet King has worked to collect furnishings for the home. She said the homes are a wonderful idea that will help vulnerable people.

“I’m really excited about it and the lives it’s going to help,” said King.

The society is still seeking a facilitator to live in the home. Anyone interested in becoming the facilitator, a resident or who wants more information can contact the society at 250-668-6008.

Donations are also needed to operate the home. For more information, please go to www.humanx.org.