BC Housing's public definition of "Supportive Housing" was very specific -- until they changed it after hearing community concerns.
Rather than being transparent about the definition, the type of supports the intended residents will require, and how they will be supported in the community, BC Housing has levelled accusations of NIMBY-ism and prejudice at concerned citizens as a means of avoiding accountability. Instead of helping bring a community together, it appears they are working with engagement consultants to do the opposite.
"Supportive Housing" is one of many discrete types of housing provided through BC Housing. It helps to understand that BC Housing essentially functions as a taxpayer-funded developer with a social housing mandate.
Prior to BC Housing deleting its message about "Supportive Housing" in multiple locations on its website and recognizing this definition in one or more of its neighbourhood dialogues, it read:
At the March 9, 2021 neighbourhood dialogue session, the BC Housing representative admitted that the "most vulnerable" of Vancouver's homeless will be housed at the proposed project at Arbutus and 7th Avenue. It was also acknowledged that the facility would be "low barrier". In BC Housing parlance, these terms signify that the majority of residents will suffer from mental health problems, and substance abuse. It is important to note that residents will be free to consume alcohol and illegal substances on-site.
Successful supportive housing projects provide "wrap-around" services for their residents: on-site primary and emergency medical care, mental health counselling and intervention services, and treatment for substance abuse. BC Housing has acknowledged that NO plan exists for ANY such services to be included in the project, nor nearby. The only services that will be incorporated into the proposed project are a kitchen that will provide one hot meal per day, a laundry room, and 24/7 staff to manage the building.
Acute issues have arisen in the last two years concerning supportive housing projects in Nanaimo and Penticton that lack wrap-around services. In Nanaimo, calls to police in the neighbourhoods surrounding two supportive housing projects for former tent-city dwellers rose 50% and 60% respectively over the same period in the year prior to the projects opening. Nanaimo police received nearly 3000 calls for service in the first 3 months of operation. Those supportive housing projects were each much smaller than the 140 units proposed for Arbutus and West 7th Avenue.
The Nanaimo and Penticton experiences exemplifies that simply providing a warm place to live is entirely insufficient to ensure the successful - and SAFE - integration of the residents into a community.