Posts Tagged ‘Social Housing’

On Aug 6, Social Planner John Horn attended the Nob Hill monthly meeting to present the 40-unit housing for the homeless project that’s slated to be built at 437-445 Wesley Street.

The Wesley site is one of 5 planned properties, which will yield an aggregate total of 160 units. The other sites include:

  • 1402-1590 Bowen Rd.,
  • 1598 Townsite Rd.,
  • 3515 Hillside Ave.,
  • 477 10th St.

The goal is to provide, through building and rent subsidies, homes for the 300+ homeless in Nanaimo.

The partnership between the City of Nanaimo and the Province of British Columbia  is based on a collaborative model:

  • the City of Nanaimo provides the land
  • the Province of BC provides Capital and Staffing,
  • a Non-Profit Society provides Management,
  • and the RCMP, the Non-Profit, Mental health, and VIHA provide tenant selection.

All are low barrier housing projects. That means, according to Social Planner John Horn: “There will be a clear expectation that residents of these projects will have respect for the neighbourhood and the building. There is not a requirement that tenants participate in a mental health or addiction treatment plan etc.”

Of the five properties,  three (Wesley, Bowen and Townsite) will provide supportive housing to the homeless. That means: “in all three projects the intent is always to move folks towards sobriety and health from whatever point they are starting at.”

In supportive housing, beyond regular staff,  an ACT (Assertive Community Treatment) team, comprised of highly skilled professionals i.e. psychologists, psychiatrists, addictions counsellors, mental health clinicians etc.  will carry a caseload of clients who live there.  Funding for and ACT team has been applied for from the BC government.

The Wesley and Bowen road projects are the same size (about 35-40 units), Townsite will have two 35-40 unit buildings; one that is low barrier and one that will be second stage housing for folks further down the sobriety road.

Much of the Nanaimo’s initiative is based on models that have been highly successful in cities like Portland and Toronto.  The models revolve around the idea that when people have a place to live and a sense of ownership, they are more able to make other changes in their lives.

Hmmmm…5 interesting points…..

  1. The city stated that they would move social housing initiatives to other parts of the city, not just the South End.   A great BIG THANKS for listening to us.
  2. The city donating land keeps costs down, moves the process along quicker, and guarantees to the province that Nanaimo is serious.  However, it limits sites to the city’s existing inventory of land.  The lack of wriggle room means the city as a whole benefits, while individual neighbourhoods may not.
  3. Interestingly, one of the largest projects is going to be right behind City Hall.
  4. The Balmoral project is not part of the city initiative, but it does mark the South End as an existing social housing provider
  5. While most people are squeamish about the fancy term “low barrier housing”, it really just describes how most of the rooming houses (including the pre-CHMA Balmoral) have been traditionally operated.

Thanks to contributors who provided the info for this article:  Gord Fuller, Jacquie Howardson and Norm Abbey from the Neighbours of Nob Hill, Social Planner John Horn.

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Our AGM is on December 3.  This is the perfect time to renew your membership (a bargain at $5), and to elect our board for the coming year.  And of course, we normally do a little festive noshing as well.

And an article you may find of interest:

Most BCers Support Social Housing

A significant majority of British Columbians would welcome housing for people with mental illnesses and addictions in their neighbourhood, a new poll done for 24 hours suggests.

More than 83 per cent of people surveyed by 24 hours pollster Strategic Communications said they would say yes to supportive housing in their community. Just over 11 per cent of respondents said they would be opposed.

The results would appear to suggest that the very vocal opposition that inevitably emerges when new proposals for supportive housing are pitched could be in the minority.

Mark Smith, executive director of RainCity Housing, says the experience of trying to convince local residents of the need for a 30-unit facility on Vancouver’s Fraser Street was “awful.”

“At the public information session, they were lined up and down the two aisles to yell at us,” Smith said in an interview. “I was threatened. It was wild. In my 30 years in this field I’d never experienced anything like that.” But Smith said he was pleased to see the apparently positive results of the poll. “There’s always such a vocal minority of people that speak up that it feels like the community is just overwhelmingly against it,” he said. “But I know that there were a lot of people that did support our project.”

Turning Point Recovery Society, another housing provider, wasn’t so lucky. The group withdrew its application to open a 32-bed recovery house in Richmond after facing intense criticism of the project from residents.

“We’re up against a very strong opposition,” said executive director Brenda Plant, who decries what she calls some residents’ ‘NIMBYism’ – Not in my backyard.

“They think property values will decline, children won’t be safe, there will be increased drug activity and drug dealers. These things just simply aren’t true,” Plant said.

In Vancouver, supportive housing projects for mental illness and addictions are overwhelmingly skewed to the east. Excluding the downtown, there are only three small facilities west of Main Street.

Ultimately, supportive housing projects have become concentrated in the Downtown Eastside, even if residents come from all parts of the city. “Richmond is by no means exempt from addictions and mental health challenges,” said Turning Point’s Plant, noting there are no similar facilities in Richmond for addicted women.

Either way, RainCity’s Smith said he was still cautious about the poll results.

“It’s easy to respond to a poll when it’s not actually happening,” he said. “How many of them are thinking I’d welcome [supportive housing] in my neighbourhood – but not next door?”

The poll surveyed 609 British Columbians and is considered representative of the general population within +/- four per cent, 19 times out of 20.

from 24 Hours, Vancouver Mon. 21 July 08

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