Tenants of supportive housing can choose from a range of places to live as well as the degree of professional mental health support they need. Sometimes they prefer shared living to combat isolation or loneliness, in which case they live in a small home with communal kitchen and living room spaces. They may prefer a small walkup with a half dozen apartments in a downtown neighbourhood where they can meet with their individual case manager to discuss their goals and progress. They may choose a place in a larger building, with many neighbours around them and greater anonymity.
These same tenants may leave every day for work or school or volunteering. They may join a 5K running group, a tai-chi class, a documentary film group, or theatre arts. They may be singing in a band or teaching others to play guitar. They can enjoy these activities and hobbies in neighbourhood community centres and local gyms, or through programs offered in their own building, where staff trained in mental health and community development or recreology provide a supportive place to gather with others, enjoying common interests. The choice is theirs and those choices strengthen our communities. At the root of that choice is the ability to live affordably in a well-maintained home where they can heal, recover and live a life of independence and dignity.
When Ottawa Salus’s Passive House building opens in the summer of 2016, it will provide 42 new homes to individuals living with a mental illness, many of whom have experienced homelessness. Currently under construction in Ottawa South, the multi-residential building is the largest scale affordable housing project pre-certified to International Passive House standards in North America. Savings generated by Passive House design will reduce operational costs for Salus and this publicly-funded asset.
With a current wait list of five to seven years, Salus’ newest Passive House building will offer that choice to another 42 of Ottawa’s most vulnerable citizens. It is also reviving Canada’s role as a leader in the design and building of Passive House construction for maximum energy savings and consumption demand management. The Ottawa Salus project will set a new standard in affordable, quality and above all, environmentally responsible construction. For more information, please visit our campaign site (www.salusottawa.org/projects/campaign)