'I'd be murdered, I'd be dead'; London, Ont. woman says moving into safe, affordable housing saved her life
LONDON, ONT. -- Chelsea Provost-Newman says she'd be another statistic if she didn't get out of London & Middlesex Community Housing.
"I'd be another murdered, missing indigenous woman." says Provost-Newman.
A recovering addict and former sex worker, she says the place she was living in was 'dangerous and not safe'.
However she has secured an apartment in the Indwell Community Homes building at 356 Dundas St. in downtown London, Ont. and claims it not only saved, but changed her life.
"They do a lot of programs and not just with people in building but other services around town," says Provost-Newman.
"They work with places like Parkwood (Institute), Addiction Services (of Thames Valley) and the AIDS committee. This can make a huge difference in your life. It's not only a safe place over your head, but you have people around you if you are having a hard time."
These stories are very familiar to those who work for Indwell.
Indwell building at 356 Dundas St. in London, Ont. on Jan. 30. 2021. (Brent Lale/CTV London)
"When people have been beaten down for quite some time, it’s hard to come back from addiction, mental health issues, and so many things that come up in life," says Graham Cubitt, director of projects and development for Indwell.
"It makes a huge difference having that stable, affordable home base."
These firsthand accounts are encouraging for those living rough in St. Thomas, Ont.
The Hamilton, Ont. based Christian charity organization is coming soon to the downtown core.
Indwell has plans for over 100 apartments in three different buildings with embedded support programs. The end goal is eradicating homelessness.
"If someone is living in a tent, or the back of semi-trailers, that’s a long way from back working full time," says Cubitt.
"But what are steps to be able to move from homelessness, into housing and then a stabilized life? We hope to get them back to employment, school or reconnect with family. There is different pieces to the puzzle, but having a stable base and supports for life wherever you are the key pieces."
16 micro apartments planned for above Transit Building in St. Thomas Ont. on Jan. 30. 2021.
Cubitt says the city is working on the 16-units above the Transit building and the contractor is mobilizing. They should be able to submit for a building permit for 45 units at 230Talbot St. with the month. If they get the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) funding next week, they'll start construction of 48 units on Ross. St. in the spring. The goal is to have everything complete within a year.
"Indwell is amazing and the multiple initiatives being brought forward is a huge step for us," says Lori Fitzgerald, executive director of Inn out of the Cold.
"Prior to this the housing options for our guests were very limited especially during COVID. This is going to make a significant difference to our guests."
St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston calls the partnership with Indwell ' the glue that brings it together'.
"They are experts in the field of supportive housing," says Preston.
"They know how to take people from homeless and shelter situation and with the support on mental health and addictions put them in full-time housing. The more people we can put in full-time housing and move them forward the way better off we are as a community. And guess what happens to those people? Their lives are more successful too."
Linda De Bruyn is one of the success stories. She was previously living in a cockroach-infested building and addicted to drugs. Since moving into 356 Dundas St. two years ago she has graduated from Pathways skill development, and is working on getting her record clean.
"The staff have helped get enrolled in 'Getting Ahead' program which will give me more options for getting a job," says De Bruyn.
"We need places like Indwell to come and build and give us more homes."
That is exactly what Indwell plans to do. They are still working on constructing the 72-unit building at 744 Dundas St. in the Old East Village.
"We have other ideas in the mix for London as well," says Cubitt.
"We have a RHI application in and if we get that one we'll build another 40 units in downtown London. We also have irons in the fire to convert a couple heritage buildings as well."