A new 20-bed community-based residential facility for men run by the John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland opened in downtown Abbotsford Tuesday.
About 300 people attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Elliott House, named for the late Mission resident, Dr. Elizabeth Elliott.
Elliott was actively involved in prisons and restorative justice for decades, founding the school of restorative justice at Simon Fraser University, and serving as a board member of the John Howard Society of the Fraser Valley.
Tim Veresh, executive director of the John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland, said naming the new facility after Elliott is a honour, as she contributed greatly to the community.
“She was an extremely remarkable person and right up until the point of her death from cancer (in 2011), she was continuing to go into prisons and run a restorative justice group.”
The newly renovated halfway house is located at 2411 West Railway St. The facility will provide a home for men who have been released from jail and suffer mental health issues or potentially substance abuse issues. Unlike a recovery home, the men are in the house under conditions approved by the parole board of Canada, and if there is an issue with behaviour or interaction with police, the men can be returned to prison without committing an offence.
Veresh said they are hoping to have men moving into the facility by Dec. 2.
He added that some men from local prisons have been coming on work releases to help get the building ready. He said many look forward to the possibility of coming to Elliott House on their release, and that many who have arranged to enter the facility have strong Abbotsford connections.
To fund the project, the B.C. government arranged $1.3 million in long-term financing. The John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland contributed $115,075 in equity, and manages and operates the building, providing 24-hour onsite support services to residents.