As many of you awesome folks may know, a little over five years ago I was hospitalized, nearly dead, after a lifetime of chronic alcoholism, and eventually drug abuse. It was then, in hospital that I decided instead of hiding my life from everyone, the addictions, the mental health issues and everything that goes along with that, I would be as open and as vocal as possible about my life in its entirety in hopes of helping others, healing myself, and being a voice of change.
Unfortunately, after moving out to BC and being clean and sober for some time, I suffered a massive mental breakdown, lost an amazing job, relapsed, this time with a needle in hand, and ended up starting what would become nearly five years on the streets.
The entire time I had been on the streets, I spoke with as many other unhoused folks as possible, to find out how they ended up on the streets, where they want to go in life, what will work for them and what won't. I've brainstormed ideas with extremely intelligent folks, fine tuned my concept, and have been working on bringing it to life since moving to the Island nearly two years ago.
The basic concept is simple: build a program specifically designed for the person struggling with addiction and mental health issues, no time limit. As they go through the program, they plan out and build their own tiny house. When their house is complete they work as a team to build homes for low income seniors, and anyone else that needs help and a home.
Once they have completed their program their house becomes theirs. They own it. They can take it wherever they want. But we also encourage them to stay and live on the same property as the program in a tiny house community where they will live integrated in a community of people who have completed the program, seniors, and the like. They would also still have full access to the same help they had during the program so they don't have to go out and find continuing help themselves and be forced to restart from scratch, and so they aren't forced back into the same unpredictable, hectic scenario they worked hard at walking away from. Instead surrounded by those who understand, relate and can work with as a community to create lives they feel worth living.
Included in the program is education (GED, post secondary, trade schools, etc). They will learn to do taxes, open bank accounts, learn to grow their own food and be taught by chefs how to cook healthy simple meals themselves.
There is a whole load more involved in it all, but that is the basics. This has all been thought of, developed and created, by unhoused addicts and those struggling with mental health issues and trauma, for anyone struggling, and with the only aim of completely empowering an individual to take back their lives, work hard, and begin to take their lives in a better direction. A direction that they, themselves, control fully.
Over time I have gained massive interest in the project from various government officials, health service providers, outreach workers, non-profits, and organizations. So much so, that now it's time to finally take this idea and make it a reality.