A new permanent housing complex for homeless people struggling with mental illness has opened in Vancouver.
Taylor Manor, operated by the Kettle Society, will provide supportive mental health housing for 56 homeless Vancouver residents living with mental illness or addictions.
Nancy Keough, the executive director of The Kettle Society, says the new housing complex with its location at Boundary Road and Adanac Street, is an "oasis in the middle of the city."
"People are really joyful to be getting to an area that's quite beautiful," says Keough.
An anonymous donor provided the $30 million it will cost to run the facility for the next 30 years. B.C. Housing, the City of Vancouver, and a few other organizations came together to pay for the capital costs of buying and renovating the building.
The heritage building was once a psychiatric facility. It then turned into housing for seniors. But Keough says it's been sitting empty for the past seven or eight years. It now includes 56 studio apartments and communal spaces, including a communal kitchen.
Finding and helping those most in need
To find residents for the facility, the Kettle Society and the city went to parks, shelters and food banks to reach out to people who fit the criteria of being homeless with a mental health issue.
They got about 200 applications in 10 days, which they reviewed to find those most in need.
Based on similar past projects, Keough expects many of the residents will be able to move out after spending a few years in the facility.
"Usually over five years a fair percentage move into independent housing," says Keough. "But people can stay if they need to stay, for as long as they need a home."
Initiatives like the Mental Health Commission of Canada's At Home / Chez Soi project have found that "housing first" initiatives similar to Taylor Manor are a catalyst that allow homeless people to achieve other goals like mental health and addiction treatment.
Similarly, a housing first strategy in Utah that began in 2005 decreased the state's homeless population by 72 per cent. It was also cost-efficient, as people used fewer emergency and social services once they were in permanent housing.
To listen the interview, click on the audio labelled: New facility provides permanent housing for homeless with mental health issues.