COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Dwayne Dick, executive director of Youth for Christ, shows one of the U-Turn apartments currently under construction on Fifth Street.
Nineteen-year-old Braydon Drover has come a long way.
Braydon Drover (right) and Rodney Barker work at the housing complex currently under construction by Youth for Christ on Fifth Street. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
After growing up in and out of foster care, he was referred to Westman Youth for Christ. Drover said when he moved into one of the community organization’s affordable housing complexes when he was 18, he was "starting to hit rock bottom."
"I just kept getting into trouble and I was literally heading to jail," Drover said. "I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for Youth for Christ."
Drover now has his own apartment, and while he’s waiting for his construction job in Saskatchewan to begin this summer, he’s helping build Youth for Christ’s newest housing complex at 139 Fifth St. Once completed, the eight-plex will be the organization’s fourth building but third U-Turn temporary housing complex since two of the other complexes are joined together on Rosser Avenue.
The first floor of the newest building is now insulated and construction of the interior of the second floor is underway. Executive director Dwayne Dyck said once the project’s finished in either April or May, it will provide much-needed affordable housing for youth in Brandon.
Dyck said the organization is already looking at adding another housing complex next year just to help keep up with the demand.
"They’re always full," he said, adding the group turns away roughly 100 youth a year due to lack of space. "We try to find community gaps and adjust our programs to meet them."
Youth for Christ’s U-Turn housing complexes provide homes for youth aged 15 to 25 who have nowhere else to turn. The affordable housing program combines personal development plans and goal setting with counselling and job training while occupants pay rent and live in a stable environment.
"It doesn’t work for young people who just want a place to stay, but if they want a place to get some stability and some support in life to move on then we help with that," Dyck said.
He added that although it’s not mandatory for youth living in one of Youth for Christ’s complexes to be religious, it is a faith-based organization.
"Our staff pray for the youth ... some of the youth come here with faith backgrounds and some don’t," Dyck said.
The newest complex will house eight youth aged 19 and over who are either self-enrolled in a support program, wanting to go or already attending school or actively seeking employment. Each suite will be equipped with its own washroom, including a shower and kitchenette. Before entering their rooms, occupants will have common space to spend time in and socialize with one another, Dyck said.
The goal of the housing program, Dyck said, is to move occupants into independent living "as quickly as they can." Although youth can live in of one of the housing complexes for a maximum of three years, Dyck said occupants normally don’t stay for more than a year.
Drover called a U-Turn housing complex home for about 10 months and credits the experience to helping him get back on his own two feet.
"It was just knowing that somebody wanted me to be around," he said. "It just added the icing onto the cake, that they do this for kids they don’t even know."
Drover and Rodney Barker, who were busy installing insulation on Monday on the second floor of the new complex on Fifth Street, said they became good friends while living in the same U-Turn complex.
Both said they’re enjoying being able to give back to the organization that they say has helped them immensely.
"They helped me when I really had no place to go and then they needed help, so I thought I’d give it back," Drover said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 11, 2014