New housing opens for people with FASD

You can still smell the paint on the walls, but the advocates responsible for a new supportive living building in Whitehorse are not wasting any time getting started.

You can still smell the paint on the walls, but the advocates responsible for a new supportive living building in Whitehorse are not wasting any time getting started.

They’re celebrating the new apartment building that opened yesterday to help people living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Known as Dun Kenji Ku – The People’s Place – the new apartment building on 4th Avenue has 14 units to house 16 people. It will provide a chance to live independently, with staff on duty to help out if necessary.

People start moving in next week.

Volunteers along with politicians from every level of government crammed themselves into one of the apartments for the official unveiling on Tuesday afternoon.

Both the territorial and federal governments funded the $3-million building. The City of Whitehorse waived the development fees and property taxes.

The new building will be run by Whitehorse’s Options for Independence Society.

The society’s president, Sharon Hickey, said the building and the program are designed to be a part of the community, not a standalone facility.

“This is meant to be housing. The tenants who come bring their services with them. So if they’re already working at Challenge or going there, they’ll still do that. If they work at Wal-Mart, they’ll do that,” she said.

Brad Cathers, the minister responsible for Yukon Housing Corporation, told the crowd the government recognizes the importance of housing.

“Housing is an important building block for improving the quality of life for people living with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder,” he said.

“With a foundation of safe and affordable housing, the Options for Independence Society is better able to address residents’ complex needs by providing support services and connecting people to local community resources.”

Hickey said she hopes the housing will mean more stability, a better quality of life and less use of emergency services for residents.

A committee chose the residents based on referrals from the community.

Eight people who were living in a six-plex next door are moving in, along with eight new residents.

“Some of them are couch surfing, some of them live with their parents, some of them are in different rented spaces that Health and Social Services pays for,” Hickey said.

Either their First Nation or Health and Social Services will pay the social assistance rate for rent in the new building.

The Health Department will contribute $553,000 annually to the building’s operation and maintenance.

There’s been no decision on what will happen to the six-plex once it is empty. It will go back into Yukon Housing’s stock of buildings.

Years ago, a program like this would not have been on anyone’s mind.

“Myself, and people like (Health and Social Services) Minister (Doug) Graham were in the legislature in the 70s and in the 80s, and that’s when we recognized the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome,” said Yukon’s senator, Dan Lang.

“We were the first jurisdiction to do that. Over time we’ve been able to respond to a very serious social situation in our community.”

Hickey told the group about arriving in the territory in May 1998 and finding a group of government and NGO representatives designing a half-way house for offenders leaving the Whitehorse Correctional Centre who were believed to have FASD.

“One day the question was, ‘Why do we have to wait until they’re in trouble? Why do we have to wait until they’re offenders?’” she said.

That’s when the idea for the Options for Independence Society was born.

“Fifteen years ago, no one could have foreseen that not only would we be around, we’d have our own custom-designed building and will have more than doubled our capacity to provide supportive housing for people believed to have FASD,” she said.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dawson the dog sits next to the Chariot Patrick Jackson has loaded and rigged up to walk the Dempster Highway from where it begins, off the North Klondike Highway, to the Arctic Circle. (Submitted)
Walking the Dempster

Patrick Jackson gets set for 405-kilometre journey

Liberal leader Sandy Silver speaks outside his campaign headquarters in Dawson City following early poll results on April 12. (Robin Sharp/Yukon News)
BREAKING: Minority government results will wait on tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin

The Yukon Party and the Liberal Party currently have secured the same amount of seats

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Exposure notice issued for April 3 Air North flight

Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley has issued another… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read