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Stephen Donald is in awe of his new home, so much so that he has a ready list of highlights:
“It’s nice and bright,” he said. “All the appliances are new. I’ve never actually had new stuff before. 

“It’s the perfect location. I can walk to the Superstore. My pharmacy is at Kings Place. And my counsellor is within walking distance.”

And he still can’t believe his new home came with a starter pack: broom, mop, cleaning supplies, dishes, pots and pans, and so on. 

“I’m still shocked about it,” he said. “They’re kind of giving me a new start.”

Stephen’s apartment is on the second floor, and includes a bathroom, bedroom and common area with kitchen and small seating area. It came furnished.

He keeps a tidy home, with his bed made and his clean dishes drying on a rack. Nothing is out of place. 

The 38-year-old moved into his tiny home, which is actually not so tiny, April 1. He is one of four tenants living in a modular two-storey four-plex build by Maple Leaf Homes and sited on land next to Christ Church (Parish) Church in downtown Fredericton. The project, called Cornerstone, has three one-bedroom units, and one accessible studio unit.

It was almost five years ago that the church expressed interest in housing those in need. A lot of red tape, delays, a myriad of regulations, three levels of government and many community partners were involved. 

CCPC’s commitment was not financial, but moral. 

“There was no financial burden on us at all,” said rector, Canon Wandlyn Snelgrove last year in discussing the project. “We had the land, and we agreed to be friendly neighbours and good landlords.”

The tenants are still getting used to their new homes, but as Stephen demonstrated, they’re well-built and tastefully decorated. 

Stephen is not what you might deem a typical homeless person. Years ago he attended university, studying computer science. He worked in the tech support industry in Fredericton for years, but about five years ago, his addiction to alcohol derailed his life. 

He lost his job — was told he could never return — then his apartment. He ended up at his family home outside Fredericton, where the situation was precarious. 

“It was shelter, that’s all,” he said. “I wasn’t independent.”

Last year when his mother decided to leave the dangerous situation there, he went with her. But he wasn’t permitted to stay in her new home for very long, which meant the unemployed, recovering alcoholic had to find an affordable place to live, a daunting task.

“I was on the edge [of homelessness],” he said, adding he turned to Fredericton Housing First Services for help.

Now he’s safely housed, paying 30 per cent of his income assistance benefit in rent, which is locked in for a year. He wants to be able to work soon, but only when he’s healthy enough to cope with having more money to spend.

“I want to resume my career in tech, but I’m trying to be careful not to rush things too much,” he said. “I can see me being here for awhile.”

For now he’s enjoying living on his own, likes the quiet neighbourhood and especially appreciates the heat pump that keeps his home cool. When the hot weather hit, tenants found a note in their mailboxes from the church secretary reminding them of how to turn on the air conditioning, he said.

His kitchen is sparkling clean. He proudly declares that his ceramic stovetop doesn’t even look like it’s been used. 

“I bought some ceramic cleaner for it,” he said. “I’m trying my best to keep everything in new condition.” 

“It’s been wonderful to see the Cornerstone project form from an idea into reality,” said Hazel Surgenor, administrative assistant at the church who has developed a positive relationship with the tenants. “It’s been great to see members of the congregation give their time in many ways to make our new tenants feel at home. 

“The tenants seemed to settle very quickly into their new homes. Our hope is that this will be a place where they find peace and can flourish.”

Canon Wandlyn Snelgrove sees the project as more than just housing.

“I’ve been thinking though how blessed we are at the Parish Church to be able to witness the presence of the Kingdom of God in the corner of our church parking lot,” she said.

“Naming this project Cornerstone is a wonderful reminder of who we are and what we are called to do. The fact that we have grateful tenants is an added blessing.”

To read the original story of CCPC’s foray into housing, visit this site.

1.  Stephen Donald in his new home at Christ Church (Parish) Church.

2. The four-plex sits in a corner of Christ Church (Parish) Church's parking lot on Charlotte Street in downtown Fredericton.
McKnight photos


Phyllis Cathcart 7 months ago

This is a wonderful outreach for CCPC, but is nothing new for them. Bishop George Lemmon, when Rector, also had an outreach for latch-key children. So happy to see his legacy continuing. Congratulations to CCPC congregation and Rector.

Peggy martin 7 months ago

It always fills my heart when I see or even know how God is working in so many of us every day..I tried. By giving a home to foster,children..I taught Sunday school 28 years..but I never forgot.. what Jesus said about children and what. We should do about it.amen..

Cindy Derksen 7 months ago

Wonderful news- we have a God of 2nd chances- blessings to all the groups involved & to the recipients.

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