PEI

New housing provides place for young adults previously in group homes or foster care

A new apartment complex that recently opened in Charlottetown is providing housing for young adults who have been in the foster care or group home system.

'I was kind of nervous as soon as I turned 18 I would have nowhere to go'

The apartments are smaller, bachelor-style units. This is a training suite staff use to help tenants learn life skills. (Laura Meader/CBC)

A new apartment complex in Charlottetown is helping young adults who have been in the foster care or group home system, but are now too old for it. 

According to Kelly Peck, director of child protection with the province, some young adults are worried that on their 18th birthday, they will lose all supports.

She said the new apartments will help them get used to living on their own.

"It really fills a gap in services," said Peck. 

There are 10 apartments for short-term housing and on-site staff available to provide life skills training from cooking to cleaning to budgeting and organizing.

'I'm really excited about this new building,' says Kelly Peck, director of child protection. (Laura Meader/CBC)

The units are bachelor-style apartments. Tenants pay an affordable rent based on their income and can stay for up to 18 months. 

People who live at the new building come voluntarily and tenants are not in the care of the province. 

"They are independent. They are here because they want to be here," said Peck. 

There are other tenants in the building as well, who are not connected to the program.

'I didn't really have anywhere to go'

Provincial law prohibits publishing the identities of people who have come under the province's care as it relates to the Child Protection Act, so CBC News is calling the 18-year-old tenant we talked with "Sarah."

"I think this place really teaches you some life skills and really teaches you how to be an adult," said Sarah. 

Over the years Sarah lived with relatives, was in group homes and in foster care. 

"I didn't really have anywhere to go, I didn't have any family to stay with. So I was kind of nervous as soon as I turned 18 I would have nowhere to go," she said.

'Sarah' was in foster and group homes. 'I was kind of nervous as soon as I turned 18 I would have nowhere to go,' she says. (Laura Meader/CBC )

She said kids who've been in care don't want pity, they just want to be treated the same as anyone else. 

"It's been hard, but I'm figuring it out," she said. 

"I know a lot of kids that age out of care are very lost as to what they're going to do." 

'We're the same as any other kids'

Sarah is in a specialized employment program and said she enjoys the independence of having her own place. She said she's also getting better at cooking and understanding her budget. 

The people who live there must be employed or in school. 

Sarah is in a job placement program and involved in local advisory groups, which are looking at the foster care and group home system and hopes to work in the field in some way when she is older. 

"I can hopefully help change some of the ways in the system, so that more places like this become available to kids." 

Staff teach the young adults basic budget skills while they are living there. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Sarah said in her experience, kids in care can be looked down on or treated differently. 

"We're the same as any other kids," she said. 

She said the new housing in Charlottetown is great and she would like to see more housing like it in other parts of the province.

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