Haelen House is a new initiative for CMHA-Kings. “Haelen” is an old Saxon word meaning “healing; holy”, and its derivative is still in use today when we describe someone as being “hale and hearty” when they are strong and well.
This project came about as a result of our very successful Shelter Me housing program, and was funded by The Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy for Rural Communities, as administered by the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia (AHANS). We were one of six agencies invited to apply for Capital Funding during the summer of 2013, and we put together a strong proposal in partnership with the Mental Health and Addictions Services (MHAS) department of Annapolis Valley District Health Authority (AVH). We were notified that we were successful in September 2013, and the funding came through on March 10, 2014, to be spent by March 31st, 2014.
We bought a duplex in Kentville, with a three bedroom upper apartment and a two bedroom lower apartment. The federal funding covered the purchase and closing costs, the installation of new windows and doors throughout, two heat pumps, electrical panel upgrades, and the removal and replacement of asbestos tile flooring.
The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia has contributed money to the purchase of appliances and some furnishings.
When we purchased the house, Brenda Main, Executive Director of CMHA-Kings, thought “This is a house where I would be happy to live”, and one tenant cried tears of relief when she moved from a cramped upper apartment in the midst of asphalt, and started paying almost $400 less per month for rent for a larger, warmer space that “felt like home” from the moment that she saw it.
The tenants of this building are families where a parent or child lives with a severe and persistent mental illness. The affordable rent is set to the DCS housing allowance for income support, and includes power and water. The house is on a bus route, and is within walking distance of NSCC Kingstec, the elementary school, all the services of downtown Kentville, grocery stores, and the hospital. All tenants receive support from AVH MHAS Community Support Workers in order to progress toward their goals, as well as support from CMHA-Kings staff.