Local initiative helps people reach independent living

The world can feel lonely and scary, and sometimes you may not know who to turn to or where to go for help. But happily, no one is truly alone in the world. Luckily, for those recovering from addiction, residents in the Highlands community have opened their arms and helped them feel welcome.

“A group of Highlands neighbours started At Home in Highlands (formerly YIMBY) in 2015 in response to the Syrian refugee crisis,” says Tim Senger, a member of the Highlands community involved with the initiative. “Since then, focus has shifted to welcoming men and women in recovery from addiction into the neighbourhood through our partnership with Recovery Acres, a 34-bed residential recovery centre located in Highlands.” 

Participants have to be sober for one to two years before accessing this initiative.

“We work closely with the Community Transition and Housing Coordinator at Recovery Acres to identify men and women who are well-suited to taking the next step into independent living in Highlands,” says Senger. 

Those who work with the initiative also help make introductions to potential landlords and explore tenancy possibilities.

At Home in Highlands also helps create social connections as participants transition to independent living in the community. Each month, neighbours new to the initiative are invited to the potluck meetings. 

“Monthly potluck dinner meetings offer opportunities for neighbours to connect and meet men and women in recovery, all with a keen eye on opportunities to welcome them, house them, and connect them into the community,” explains Senger. “We appreciate their critique and ideas, and as more and more people learn about the initiative, we hear about and meet landlords of rental suites that may be appropriate housing for those we welcome.”

It is all about helping to build a community. According to the intitiative’s overview, their vision is: “A neighbourhood that thrives, grows stronger and becomes more inclusive, diverse and resilient because we welcome, engage with and support individuals who are overcoming and emerging out of challenging life circumstances.” 

Sustained recovery from challenging life circumstances often relies on stable housing and being connected with the community. According to the initiative overview, “At Home in Highlands works to provide both and believes that all people are intrinsically valuable with gifts, skills, and abilities to offer a community.”

Senger adds, “We also work in the community to raise awareness of Recovery Acres and, in turn, reduce the stigma of addiction and recovery.” This in turn will help build a sense of belonging in the neighbourhood. 

Not only does At Home in Highlands help connect tenants with landlords and organize potluck dinners, they also offer connections to the community through invitations to either attend or participate in local events and groups. They also connect those in need with helpful services and explore the possibility of employing residents with light work in the neighbourhood. All of this benefits the new neighbours through stable housing, regular connections with neighbours, a sense of belonging, local support and services, and opportunities to contribute to the neighbourhood. 

But the new neighbours are not the only ones to benefit. “We are hopeful that At Home in Highlands will become a way of life in Highlands rather than a formal initiative. Healthy connection in a neighbourhood, especially around a common cause, builds resiliency and ultimately enriches the entire neighbourhood,” explains Senger. For more information, email: athomeinhighlands@gmail.com.

Featured Image: At Home in Highlands helps create social connections for people in recovery. | Pixabay