Oak Bay’s Threshold Housing Society home at capacity

New housing for young people was a full the day it opened

Threshold Housing’s Brooke MacDonald (left)

A bright and sunny home on Granite offers young people a fresh start in Oak Bay.

When the Threshold Housing Society’s newest home opened Sept. 1, it was not only full, the society was at 100 per cent capacity across all four of its homes, said Mark Muldoon, executive director.

“Given the lack of youth housing and quality of youth housing, we’re very happy,” he said.

Threshold targets youth age 16 to 24 in need of safe, secure and supported housing while they go to school or gain experience in the workforce. Youth are offered up to two years of transitional housing and programs. Threshold Housing operates three other facilities, Holly House, Mitchell House and Forrest House, which lies just outside of Oak Bay’s borders.

Safety means more than a door and a lock, Muldoon said.

“Our big goal now is to create a community in here of respect, inclusion, so the youth feel safe,” he said. “You can put a lock on a door but they have to feel safe.”

The society nearly achieved the goal of $100,000 for renovations to the building on Granite Street that was originally built as seniors’ housing and until two years ago was used as an Easter Seals home for families needing a place to stay during medical procedures in Victoria.

“This feels like home and is a good address,” said Jo-Ann Roberts, advancement and community relations for Threshold Housing Society.

Each room has a small fridge, dresser, bed and small balcony with a shared kitchen, bathrooms and media room. Residents are encouraged to socialize and congregation is already common in the kitchen as a hub, says one staffer.

“We’re very happy with the transformation; it was a true team effort,” Muldoon said. “It’s been a very community-minded effort to make it possible. From what I can see the neighbourhood is happy.”

Rotary Club of Oak Bay cleared away the overgrown garden to reveal a tidy back yard and revamped furniture in the activity room. Oak Bay United Church summer campers created a ‘welcome home’ banner and inviting placemats for the home.

Coast Capital Savings contributes a multi-year grant “to keep the house sustained. We can’t sustain it alone on rent,” he said. The organization that provides housing for young people, signed a five-year lease to use  the church-owned building adjacent to Oak Bay United Church.

This summer, Home Depot volunteers swept a soft teal and white across the halls and covered the entire interior in a fresh coat of paint within six hours one day.

“They see that to invest in youth today you’re enriching tomorrow,” Muldoon said of the corporate help.

Six years ago Threshold had only one home, they now have four that offer varying settings.

“We have a housing continuum and that’s nice to have,” Muldoon said. “When we see a client coming in, we can see what’s the best fit.”

With a live-in person in a lower suite and life-skills programs offered, the youth are entrenched in trustworthy adults. These are young people who really want to keep their housing, Muldoon added.

“We’re trying to encourage they all have a say in what happens here,” he said. “They really want this and they know it makes a difference.”