Salt Spring

 The SSI Branch of the Victoria Human Exchange Society- updated-September 2012.

Grandma’s House was set up in 1994 in response to the idea presented by the first grassroots Board of Directors at Apple Seed House who believed that a Grandma’s House away from the City where they could get “away from the fire” and move toward a more creative life-style was what would be most helpful to them and to other challenged and homeless people. We used to have week-end retreats with monthly transitional housing that gradually became known to local people in need.

Our first rented house was sold when Owner died in 2006, and the Salt Spring Land Bank Society raised money in the community and from Vancouver Foundation ($20,000.) and BC Housing etc. to purchase the house at 384 Fulford-Ganges Rd to be used by the VHES to continue our transitional housing for men on SSI.

Present Facilitator Jordan Lessick — works with the SS Community Services  in the Housing First program;   AA/NA and other local groups to build supports for men facing recovery from drugs, alcohol and prison. Room for 4 men but the Land Bank plans to have a separate cabin to make room for a fifth man. Meetings are sometimes held at the house.

Neddy Harris of the SS Landbank Society collects VHES rent of $1000 monthly at present, Neddy is sometimes able to provide work at one of the other Land Bank affordable housing projects for occupants of Grandma’s and she has other housing (Dean Rd etc) that men sometimes transfer to if they get a job.

In 1996 we responded to a call from the SS community to house 3 elderly men made homeless by the closing of their shared housing, which was called Autumn House The VHES Board felt that since we were founded to listen to people’s housng needs and give support to persons about to be homeless, that we should house these elderly men until they were able to transfer to Senior resources on Salt Spring. We placed these men in another newly rented house (rent $950.00) which we named Charlie Pyott House after an old Mayne Islander, who was part of our beginnings in Victoria but who had died recently.

We used a roster of SSI volunteers and others from Mayne Island to cook and care for these seniors until they could transfer to nursing homes. After they left, the house was co-ed for awhile until it became a women’s house and the name Charlie Pyott was given to a new men’s house in Victoria (2001). The House was renamed Bittancourt Manor–the name the absentee Owner uses. Though recently it has again been renamed to honour a Salt Spring woman who has often taken homeless people into her own home and who has always been an advocate for the SSI Branch of the VHES, gaining annual funding from the Anglican Outreach of All Saints by the Sea. The house has four rooms and recently a suite was made available by the Owner. The full rent as of September 2012 is $1542.11 with a rent rise coming in November 2012 to $1608.42.

So we faced a dilemma as to the future use of this house because the IWAV second stage housing has now been developed at what was once the site of Autumn House on Fulford-Ganges Rd.  There is also Abbeyfield Housing and Land Bank housing projects that didn’t exist a few years ago.   So after 16 years of service to SSI, the decision was made to close the house on Bittancourt Rd–Nancy Wigen House.  Both the Anglican Outreach and the CWL assisted us with the expense of readying the house for the Owner.

We have received gifts in kind and in financial support from The Salt Spring Island Foundation, Island Opportunity Fund, Thrifty Foods, Electronic Arc (very low cost computers), Churches, especially All Saints Anglican Church, the CWL at Our Lady of Grace , Agencies , Businesses and Copper Kettle. The Food Bank is very generous.

We look forward to our Grandma’s House serving the needs of Salt Spring Island males for years to come.