Neighbours! Meet T!

T is a volunteer, roommate, dog-owner, parent, coffee drinker, and cyclist in the Victoria area. Like many in our communities – including many of those I love – T is also eight years into recovery from alcoholism and lives with mental illness and ADHD.

For years T, like so many, has been supported by Umbrella, an indispensable community asset in Victoria.  For years, Foundation House was home. The opportunity to live in recovery and the chance to make real, solid friendships means that T knows others have his back – and as a true friend – he has theirs.

Just last month T and a few others moved out of Umbrella’s Foundation House into their new third stage home, making space for others earlier in their recovery to find safe, secure, and supportive housing. T shares his home with roommates and their rescue dog TJ.

While T has never been homeless, he’s been very dangerously close. He has safe home, but because he is, for now, living on disability, it’s hard to imagine where T could live. For now it’s a task to make it through the month for groceries. How does in manage? By sharing and cooperating with his housemates.

If T can’t find a home he can afford, space at Umbrella won’t be available for others in need of supportive housing. The other challenge T identifies? Losing the ability to use transfers on BC Transit, doubling the cost of the transit trips for some of the city’s most vulnerable.

I asked T what would have made a difference for him in the last 10-years. He told me how Victoria has lots of great services, but he didn’t know about them till it was almost too late. We’ve got some work to do on de-stigmatization, connection, and collaboration.

What else does T think we need? More dry housing for those in recovery; folks in this city shouldn’t need to make a choice between housing and their recovery.

T has volunteered for many organizations in the downtown area and beyond. He has training in addiction and recovery. If you ask me, I want T to be able to find stable and safe housing in our communities so that when he’s supporting others, when he’s volunteering, when he’s drinking coffee and chatting, he is doing so in our communities.