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finding a way back home

One year ago Adeline was homeless. A year living in supportive housing has given new meaning to her life and paintings.

It’s not every day that you meet a person whose story effectively changes your perception and moves you deeply; Adeline is one of those people. When she walked into the interview room her calm presence was followed by carefully applied bright pink lipstick, a modest smile, knowing eyes and a vibrant outfit. Behind Adeline hung four of her lively, large paintings, created within the last year, a time of growth for the artist. Adeline was one of the first of 62 residents to move into Sanford Apartments, where she proudly lives today.

A year ago, Adeline was homeless. For 11 years a Kitsilano office building merely provided her shelter, storage and a couch for herself and her pets. A senior living with a mental illness, she was in complete isolation, without cooking or bathing facilities. While Adeline had been a well-loved waitress at a local family restaurant for 21 years, she emotionally and financially hit rock bottom when her mental health severely declined and her meager income could not cover her living costs. Finding herself without money or a place to stay, she was hours away from living on the streets.

With everything crumbling down around her, a chance connection with MPA Society’s Resource Centre and art program led to Adeline learning about a new supportive housing building going up at 7th Avenue and Fir Street and was encouraged to submit an application. This was in the community that she already called home for over a decade. After six months of patiently waiting and continuing to sleep on her couch in an office building, Adeline moved into her home at Sanford Apartments in July 2012. “Oh it was a great day! Getting a home was really a turning point for me; I knew everything was going to get better once I moved into [Sanford Apartments]."

Since her moving day Adeline has welcomed the support of the MPA outreach workers, the resources available and her new community. Her improved mental health has allowed her to engage in daily activities that she didn’t feel capable of before. “It’s been uphill ever since,” said Adeline. “I’m cooking for the first time in 11 years. I have my own bathtub for the first time in 11 years. I literally got everything I ever wanted and needed.”

Since opening in the summer of 2012, Sanford Apartments provides housing to 62 individuals, and offers on-site services to connect tenants with mental health treatment services, advocacy workers, kitchen support staff and crisis intervention. The building, staff and residents have seen great success in the first year of operations. 89% of tenants who moved in have remained housed at the site and 97% feel hopeful and supported in achieving their goals for the future.

The last year has been momentous for Adeline. She now writes a regular column for the Sanford Times Newspaper, a monthly newsletter widely read by residents and staff. Her articles highlight local events, enjoying life on a budget, and interviews of other residents. Adeline has also become a prolific painter, producing over 50 pieces of art since becoming stably housed. Her work is not only hung throughout Sanford Apartments but can be seen in galleries all over Vancouver. Adeline will be showing and selling her paintings at the City of Vancouver’s Out of the Rain art exhibition and auction on October 18th, 2013, during Homelessness Action Week.

Safe, stable and affordable housing has changed the lives of 62 individuals living at Sanford Apartments. With the support she now receives from her new community, Adeline is not looking back: “I’m very happy with the way my life has gone, and I don’t worry about being homeless anymore. Depression and instability are not here at Sanford!”

About Sanford Apartments
Through a partnership between Streetohome Foundation, BC Housing, City of Vancouver, Vancouver Coastal Health, Sanford Housing Society and MPA Society, Sanford Apartments is a nine-story building that provides 62 apartments with integrated support services for individuals living with mental illness.

About Out of the Rain – Art Exhibition and Auction
Vancouver’s established artists will exhibit alongside homeless, at risk and recently-housed artists with art as the forum to highlight the benefits of safe and decent housing. This is your chance to purchase artwork in all media including unique and creative art and functional umbrellas. Find out more.

When: October 18, 2013, 7-10 pm

Where: Vancouver Community College (VCC) Downtown Campus, 250 West Pender Street