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David Eby Recognizes “Supportive” Housing is Not Working For All

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In December 2021, David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing sat down for an interview with a Kelowna's Radio NL 610AM to discuss the issues of homelessness and public safety negatively impacting cities across our province. David Eby acknowledged there were people with serious mental health and substance use issues “who are very hard to house who cause a disproportionate number of problems” and that the current shelter and supportive housing models “100% are not working for them”. Eby went so far to say that this population can be “completely out of it and they are unsafe, and they scare people around them and they scare themselves, and sometimes they even hurt people, so we need to have good places to support them.” His solution was a “complex care” model that, unlike supportive housing, claims to provide residents with clinical services and supports including physical, mental health and substance use care.

Facts Myths written on a chalkboard

In January 2022, the provincial government announced details of its voluntary complex-care housing program. The program will be limited to some of the beds at four housing sites and will have the capacity for only 103 individuals across these sites.

The proposed West 7th/8th and Arbutus building is proposed as “low barrier” supportive housing for those who are hard to house and suffering from serious mental health and substance use issues. It will not provide complex care. Instead, it will be the same supportive housing model that Eby acknowledged is failing – one where residents have few clinical services and supports on-site and no mental health or substance use services in the neighbourhood.

Moreover, there has been no commitment from the named operator, MPA, regarding the staffing levels for this high-density site. In previous communications, BC Housing has said that at times, there would be as few as two staff, plus a building manager, on-site for all of the 140 residents.

Given Eby’s acknowledgement of the current failings of the supportive housing model, why is he pushing for a low-barrier, adult-only, “supportive” housing project that is:

  1. In a residential neighbourhood, 18 meters away from a preschool, elementary school and toddler park?
  2. Is high density at 140 units, three times the size recommended by BC Housing’s own guideline of 40 to 50 units in supportive housing developments?
  3. Excludes single parents with children and families?

Let's consider the lack of supports in the neighbourhood, as well as the suitability of this housing model known to present risks and instead propose a solution that is sized and supported adequately. Considering the composition of the residents will provide a higher probability of safe and successful integration in this child/family-oriented area. This should be done instead of promoting a solution acknowledged as not working.

Listen to David Eby’s interview here.

Are you interested in learning more about the issues? Please see our list of common questions people are asking about this development.