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Assisting Independent Living

Jan 25 2010

SUMMERSIDE
NANCY MACPHEE
The Journal Pioneer

Community Connections will start construction this spring on a six-unit independent living apartment complex off North Granville Street. A request for proposals went out earlier this month seeking a contractor to construct the 7,400-square-foot complex situated behind the former Centennial Pool, property currently owned by APM.

The complex would be among a handful of housing options Community Connections offers to its intellectually challenged clients. "Housing has always been part of our mandate," said executive director Frank Costa. "Traditionally, we've had the group home, which is located on Winter Street. We also have many clients that live with associate families who are caregivers that we recruit that open up their home to adults with disabilities." In 2005, Community Connections constructed its first independent housing units on Highland Avenue. That complex includes an apartment where 24-hour care support is provided to residents.

Affordable housing for intellectually challenged adults is fast becoming a critical issue in the Summerside area and across Canada, said Costa. With more parents of adult children with intellectual disabilities aging, finding affordable and accessible housing options for their children is becoming increasingly difficult.

"We have a parent group that is part of the discussion with us. They came together themselves," said Costa. "Some of them weren't even connected with our agency but have the same common need for housing."

Ground should break on the project by mid March or early April. The complex will consist of five two-bedroom apartments and one three-bedroom apartment with laundry facilities and a common area where life skills, such as food preparation, can be taught to residents. "Those who need more assistance with preparing a supper meal we are going to bring that to the apartments," said Costa. "They'll be part of preparing supper every day and they'll either eat together or go back to their apartments."

Clients will share apartments, which are all currently spoken for.
The complex's close proximity to shopping and other amenities is ideal since those residing in the complex don't drive, said Costa. The project's cost, including purchasing land from APM and construction, is estimated at $800,000 to $900,000. Of that, $250,000 has been secured through the Homelessness Partnering Strategy and $300,000 through the Canada-P.E.I. Affordable Housing Agreement. Community Connections will mortgage the balance.
With that government support, Community Connections can offer what it considers affordable, about $650 a month, heat and lights included, for a two-bedroom apartment.

APM is project manager and has provided its expertise in construction and design. The project is expected to be complete by Aug. 31. Costa said constructing a second similar complex on the same property is a possibility for the


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