CORNER BROOK — When Colin Goodyear left work Wednesday afternoon, he was able to go to his own home for the first time in his life.
The 52-year-old is one of the 10 people who are the first tenants to occupy Summit Place, the new affordable residence built on Premier Drive by the Community Mental Health Initiative.
Goodyear, who has a personality disorder and works at West Lane Recycling, wasn't available for an interview Wednesday, but his three sisters and his mother were able to take time out of their busy day preparing their brother's apartment for him.
"It's really beautiful," said sister Carol Fost. "He was living with mom in a basement apartment before, which was nice, but he needs his independence. This is so new and clean and beautiful. It's certainly going to meet his needs."
The first month's rent is not due until Saturday, but tenants were given the green light to start moving in this week. Two tenants, including Goodyear, are now settled away.
It's been an emotional experience for his other sister, Lana Payne.
"I came into the apartment and I cried and cried," she said. "I just thought: he deserves something beautiful like this."
The new digs come with a couch, chair, kitchen table set, a double bed and a microwave, plus a housewarming gift of cleaning supplies and other essentials. The affordable rent of $535 comes with heat and lights included, with residents expected to pay for their own cable and telephone bills if they want those services.
There is a garbage dumpster in the parking lot and snowclearing will be taken care of when winter comes. The building, located at the site of the former Summit Lounge and Take Out, is near a city bus route stop and is within walking distance of shopping at Murphy Square.
Judging from the groceries being piled into his cupboards, Goodyear likes to cook.
"He's very excited," Fost said of her brother's newfound autonomy. "He's going to get the chance to do some cooking with the group here apparently."
There will indeed be opportunities for the tenants to socialize in that fashion, if they so desire, said Aimee Pennell and Steve Gaulton, the two Community Mental Health Initiative staff members who will work out of the residence during the weekdays.
"We may have some sort of social for the tenants in the next week or two once everybody gets comfy," said Pennell.
The building does contain a common area where cooking sessions, movie nights and other events can take place. There is also a deck for tenants to enjoy.
One thing the deck is missing is a barbecue, which the residence hopes someone in the community might want to donate.
Gaulton said, from the chats he has had with the tenants, they are all hoping to be long-term residents of this welcoming facility for those living with mental illness.
"These are people who lived in their own apartments all around town, but some of the places they have come from were old, damp, dirty, mouldy places with rent through the roof," said Gaulton. "We don't anticipate a lot of turnover in tenants.
"We were all saying Sept. 1 is moving-in day, but I said Sept. 2 is the first day for applying for funding to get another building like this built."