Released October 15, 2010

Choices for Youth
Officially Opens First Affordable Housing Centre for Youth in St. John’s

A major housing milestone was celebrated today as Choices for Youth (Choices), along with its government, community and corporate partners came together to officially open the Lilly Building, St. John’s first affordable housing facility for male and female youth facing homelessness.

“It’s truly an amazing feeling to now walk through the doors of the Lilly Building and see youth feeling at home and receiving the support they need to improve their lives and open themselves to a future that is bright and promising,” said Sheldon Pollett, Executive Director of Choices for Youth.  “The Lilly Building is an example of the direction Choices is moving in to provide longer term housing as well as educational and employment programs under one roof. I hope everyone involved in this project looks at it with the same pride as I do.”

The project has received a total of $2.3 million in funding from various federal-provincial initiatives to offset construction costs. This includes $900,000 under the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Affordable Housing Program, cost-shared 50/50 with the federal and provincial governments.  Newfoundland Labrador Housing contributed $680,000 through the Housing Trust Funds.  The project received $595,000 from the Homelessness Partnering Strategy, and $164,000 from the federal-provincial Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program.  The project also received Seed Funding from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to assist during the initial planning stages.

In addition, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has invested a further $1,113,000.  This includes $550,000 in operational funding from the Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment’s Supportive Living Community Partnership Program and another $103,000 in programming funding.  The Department of Environment and Conservation provided $400,000 through the Newfoundland and Labrador Green Fund to address energy efficiency measures that were undertaken during project renovation.  The Department of Health and Community Services also contributed $60,000 for employment program costs. The Williams Government’s total contribution to the Lilly Building project is $2.3 million.

“Our government is truly proud to be supporting this important initiative,” said the Honourable Tom Hedderson, Minister of Transportation and Works and Minister Responsible for the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation, who represented the Provincial Government at the opening. “Once again, Choices for Youth has come through for the youth of our province who find themselves in need of a stable, safe place to call home – a place where they can access the supports they need to better their lives.”

Speaking on behalf of the Government of Canada, Senator Fabian Manning said, "Our government is giving a hand-up to Canadians with housing needs, and is helping those seeking to break free from the cycle of homelessness and poverty. Through partnerships like this one, we can help vulnerable youth who are homeless or at risk of homelessness find safe and temporary housing while they learn new skills and get the support they need to become more self-sufficient."

The project is in response to the hundreds of youth who come through the doors of Choices’ Youth Services Centre every year. For many of these youth, living in unstable, unsafe living conditions has been the only life they’ve known. Since the Young Men’s Shelter opened in 2002 the percentage of youth who repeatedly need to make use of the shelter has reached over 60 per cent. These young men continue to cycle through shelters, boarding houses, apartments, and living with friends and relatives. These youth often have fragmented educational experiences and have been unable to find and maintain employment.

Through this project, Choices has created a critical link that has been missing for these youth as this new housing model, based on Eva’s phoenix model (Toronto), is home to Youth at Promise, a basic literacy and math skill program; and an employment preparation program.

The facility is staffed 24/7 and provides affordable housing to 14 youth at a time for up to one year. The layout of the building was designed in such a way to both maximize the sense of community while also maintaining individual home-spaces in a youth-friendly environment. As such, some of the units are two-bedroom style apartments, with a shared bathroom and kitchenette, others are single bedroom units. Youth will then share community space in the larger kitchens and eating areas, as well as lounge and recreation areas.

The Lilly Building is located in the former site of the old A. Lilly & Co. warehouse on Bond Street in downtown St. John’s, which underwent renovations to transform it into the one-of a kind facility that stands today. An innovative aspect of the renovation project was that it permitted 10 youth to work on the site, alongside contractors and trades-people, to learn basic carpentry, painting, plastering, workplace safety, and other related skilled trades through Choices' Train for Trades program. The young people were supported by a team of Youth Support Workers which gave them the necessary balance of flexibility, direction, support and independence they needed to succeed.

“Choices for Youth is growing and it is evident that our community is recognizing the potential of our youth,” added Mr. Pollett. “Through strong ongoing partnerships with all levels of government, the corporate sector, and other community groups, we are well on our way to experiencing even more growth and improving the lives of even more young people who need it most.”

-30 -

Media contacts:

Erin Molloy
Choices for Youth
(709) 754-0446; 727-8841


Jenny Bowring
Manager, Corporate Communications
Newfoundland Labrador Housing



Roger Scaplen
Director of Communications
Department of Transportation and Works
709-729-3015, 697-5267


Michelle Bakos
Press Secretary
Office of Minister Finley