By Jack Wilson
Local Journalism Initiative
A planned Sherbrooke housing co-op for people with autism has secured funding from all three levels of government. The Coopérative de solidarité l’Envolée aims to offer 21 units of affordable housing in Sherbrooke’s Old North neighbourhood by the end of 2024. The cost of the project and the amount of government funding are yet to be determined, said the co-operative’s president, Joanne Morin.
The project will renovate an existing building on Vimy street. Morin said that location is well suited to those with autism. “You need a calm, peaceful and safe location, but at the same time, close to transportation, close to services and close to stores. So it’s not easy to find that,” she said. Morin said this building meets all the criteria, with all essential stores within a ten-minute walk, public transit within a three-minute walk and a park nearby. Public transit is especially important for those with autism she said, because most don’t drive.
The development aims to house people with autism who have lighter needs. It won’t offer 24-hour care. The residents will be people “who need certain support, but if they’re alone in their apartments at night, there isn’t an issue,” Morin said. Residents will require a caregiver who can check in on them from time to time. “We provide housing, but we don’t provide all the services that someone might need,” she said.
Still, a level of support will be available, including activities organized in the building’s community room. “It’s not just housing that we’re offering, it’s a lot more than that. It will be community living,” Morin said. Many with autism shy away from social activity, she said, making it important to facilitate such interactions. The residents will also coordinate maintenance of the property, assigning tasks like snow shovelling and vacuuming to each other.