WATCH: The John Howard Society will soon have a new facility to house youth in need in the Comox Valley. Dean Stoltz has more.
There’s good news for at-risk youth in the Comox Valley.
The John Howard Society will be taking over the ten bed Abbeyfield House in Courtenay next spring to provide temporary housing for vulnerable 16 to 20 year-olds.
Abbeyfield House opened in 1997 but closed Sept. 30.
The $2 million property, with a $172,000 dollar mortgage, has been gifted to the John Howard Society.
“Oh I was thrilled,” said Wendy Richardson of the John Howard Society of North Island. “We’ve been looking for five years. There really is no housing for youth in the Comox Valley and we’ve been looking for a long time.”
The John Howard Society runs a similar home in Campbell River. It plans to help youth who, for a variety of reasons, can no longer live in their family home but still need help in learning how to live independently.
“So it’s quite transformative for these young people who have often been couch surfing, living in tents or abandoned buildings. Often they’ve been forced to drop out of school, they have many challenges and this changes their lives,” added Richardson.
Abbeyfield provides affordable independent living but a board member tells CHEK News the model wasn’t cost effective with only ten rooms and high expenses. When the local board tried to raise the rent last year, ensuing arbitration highlighted further issues with the model. In July the board announced the home would close.
The 10 seniors living at Abbeyfield all found another place to live when the doors closed but a seniors advocate is worried about the loss of 10 affordable homes in the community.
“Very disappointed with the overall outcome because it’s something that didn’t have to happen,” said Pamela Willis of Comox Valley Seniors Peer Support. “Abbeyfield did not have to close. Our youth need resources like this in our community but our seniors need places to live too and this was a purpose-built facility.”
The John Howard Society says it will take over the facility next spring.