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Executive Director of Shelter House, Patty Hajdu, says landlords are reluctant to accept tenants from the managed alcohol program. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

Shelter House is asking Thunder Bay's Crime Prevention Council to support its bid to buy a city-owned building in the south core.

Executive Director Patty Hajdu made the pitch at a meeting of the council  Wednesday night.

The former EMS building on Donald Street would be used to expand Shelter House’s managed alcohol program.

"People don't want our folks in their community," said Hajdu, "So the minute that we say 'Oh, we'd like to place four people with severe and chronic, non-palatable, substance use in your building, and could you please provide us four units?' no one will rent to our population."

Hajdu said that by moving that program to another location outside Shelter House they will be able to provide more beds to the homeless, both youths and adults.

Hajdu added that the layout of the old EMS building is better suited for a managed alcohol program than the site Shelter House is currently using.

The group is now waiting for city council’s decision on its request to buy the old EMS property.

'Our tenants are costly tenants'

Asking the Crime Prevention Council to endorse the idea was the logical choice, according to Hajdu. A lack of supportive housing in Thunder Bay has already been identified as a problem by that group.

"Our tenants, especially the people in the managed alcohol program, are costly tenants." She said. "There are all kinds of issues with damages and behavior issues that no landlord who's in the private sector would want to handle."

However, some of the council members were apprehensive about endorsing any specific site.

"It's not our decision to decide whether that's the right building," said acting chair Tom Walters. "I'm happy to show support for the Shelter House board, but it has to be subject to the conditions of approval."

The meeting concluded with unanimous support to back Shelter House's bid, subject to all due diligence, but council still has to poll absentee members before officially giving its support.