A building on Fredericton’s north side is well on its way to becoming a home for six adults living with a mental illness.
It will be the New Brunswick Community Residences’ fourth home in the city. The non-profit organization has been operating since 1980, providing housing and support for adults who need help coping with their illness.
Executive Director Stephanie Brewer says the beds were spoken for before the renovations were finished, and there’s already a waitlist with the Department of Social Development
“There’s a big need,” she said. “They have so many people that are looking for homes in the community. They may be in hospitals, for up to two years or more, waiting for places.”
She says, of the six adults coming to live at this particular home, four are coming from a hospital.
“They will be able to work with them on independent living skills, daily living skills. It will be staffed 24 hours so there will always be supports here,” she said. “Our aim is to always help people become as independent as they possibly can.”
The home was a vision by New Brunswick Community Residences’ board chair, Jackie McLean.
McLean’s partner, Const. Robb Costello, was shot and killed, along with another police officer and two civilians, in Fredericton in August 2018.
“For this to be happening is amazing, and I have to give credit to the Board, because after Robb died, I didn’t really have a whole lot of motivation,” she said.
The man accused in the case was sent for treatment after being found unfit to stand trial this fall.
“I don’t want to make assumptions, but there’s a very likely a mental health component. And I wonder, if this individual had received supports from the community, if maybe, a tragedy like this could have been avoided,” said McLean.
She says staff and the board at the non-profit have worked hard to turn the idea into a reality.
Brewer says, because the non-profit has been financially responsible over the years, they were able to buy the home and do the renovations. But now they’re hoping for some holiday help to complete their work.
“We need furnishings, all the miscellaneous items you need in a home, kitchen utensils, small kitchen appliances,” she said.
If they’re able to get all the furnishings they need, Brewer and McLean are hoping residents can move in in early January.
“It’s really important that people have a homey environment where they’re not institutionalized, and they’re not stigmatized for something they really can’t prevent,” McLean said. “Mental Illness is not something that you can switch or turn on or off. You don’t choose to have a mental illness.”