A community advisory committee and a “Clean Team” are two ways the operators of the 53 temporary modular homes on Royal Crescent are trying to minimize any impacts on their neighbours.
Meanwhile, two people who moved into the shelter in October have already moved out and have found their own places, while many of the residents “are working on their recovery goals,” said Susan Hancock, with Coast Mental Health, which operates the complex.
Hancock said Wednesday that the Clean Team employs five residents of the complex, which opened in October. At the time, it took in 25 people who had been living in Anita Place Tent City.
The team ensures the property is maintained inside and out and provides leadership opportunities for those involved, Hancock added.
Meanwhile, the community advisory committee has already had its third meeting to address issues created by the complex. “These meetings continue to support our efforts in building and maintaining positive relations amongst the community, the building operators and the housing program partners. Lately, the feedback we’ve received has been helpful in identifying and resolving building deficiencies,” Hancock added.
Jesse Stretch, who’s on the advisory committee, credit’s Coast Mental Health with being willing to hear the complaints from residents.
“They’re open to hearing it. They want to hear it. And they want to deal with it. They may not necessarily have all the tools yet.”
He now visits the area once a week to pick up needles. Neighbours complain about people hiding around the area doing drugs and petty crime.
Dave Anderson, who lives next to the complex, said it’s often noisy outside the shelter at night with police there often.
“You go from an area that had no problems, to an area that has problems, not everybody is going to be pleased. I think it can be dealt with and handled,” Stretch said.
Coast Mental Health is trying, he added.
“With a bit of work and community involvement, I think we can handle it.”
Stretch, though, said he’s still not a fan of low-barrier shelters and thinks that detox, treatment and second-stage housing are needed for people moving beyond supportive housing.
“If you just have low-barrier shelters, you’re going to have low-barrier results. Now, if we start opening doorways and gateways so these people actually get out of that lifestyle, now we’ll see results. And that means detox, treatment and second-stage [housing]. Until we start doing that, we’re wasting time.”
“Tenants were overwhelmed by the generosity of the community over the holidays. They received various clothing donations, as well as framed artwork produced by children of Open Door church,” Hancock said.
Stephanie Stoddard, who runs the Wonder World Play School nearby, said people gather and use drugs in the parking lot and she often has to ask them to leave.
She supports the goal, “but I do have a business to run.
“But for the most part … if I go back and ask them to move, they’re quite respectful.” People apologize once they know it’s a daycare, she adds. She’s had to call 911 three times since the housing opened.
The main challenge is cleaning the parking lot, but it’s not “all-day, every-day. We have our moments, like everybody else in town, right.”