It doesn’t look like anything special, a normal apartment building on Bayview just north of the Humphrey funeral home, but it is unique to Canada, says Diane Marshall, executive director of The Residences of 1425 Bayview.
She says it is the only private residence in the country that provides housing and leading-edge programming for mental health care in a building shared with market-value tenants.
Opened over seven years ago, The Residences chose Leaside because integration for the residents is welcome, among businesses and individuals.
“One of the most critical components” of success, says Marshall, is that “it addresses the most common desire to belong and be a part of a larger circle.”
That happens even inside the building.
The third and fourth floors have eight apartments for market rent. The tenants, says Marshall, “volunteer with us, join us for meals and special events or just watch out for us as good neighbours do”.
The Residences kept a fairly low profile at first, gradually building relationships with various neighbours, including St. Cuthbert’s Anglican Church.
For the second year the church has offered its location for Paws for the Cause on Saturday, June 14, when residents of the house will take photos of people and their pets, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., all donations going to the Lions Club of Canada Guide Dogs.
There’s lots of other outside help, including support from the local valu-mart, which Marshall calls a community champion.
It has a therapeutic relationship with Sunnybrook and CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health), and an arrangement with the Royal Conservatory of Music with the Living Through the Arts programs.
The Residences would also like to start a drama group in the community.
It is in the process of expanding, with room for a sixth live-in resident, and an enhanced fee-for-services program that addresses physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs.
“Our programs include healthy nutrition and lifestyle, yoga, hiking, swimming, music, art, crafts and education,” says Marshall.
There is also a day program.
The Residences was founded in 2006 by a private board, says Marshall, and over the years expanded to include a wider range of mental heath and cognitive issues.
Now it wants to grow across the country to build “financially sustainable centre(s) of excellence… for supportive housing and program development for mental health and other health care.
“We continually and passionately seek new directions and connections.”
Since there was nothing like it in Canada, the founders studied the 60-year history of The Bridge New York, more of a community than a single house, which describes itself as “offering help, hope and opportunity to the most vulnerable in our community”