Housing for the most vulnerable proposed for Terrace

Dedicated service being expanded across the province

Provincial mental health and addictions minister Sheila Malcolmson is in charge of expanding housing for vulnerable people across B.C. (Hansard TV)

Provincial mental health and addictions minister Sheila Malcolmson is in charge of expanding housing for vulnerable people across B.C. (Hansard TV)

Dedicated housing for the most vulnerable people dealing with overlapping mental health, substance use, trauma or brain injuries causing them to be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless could soon be placed in Terrace.

That’s following a proposal by the Northern Health Authority to locate what is called complex care housing here.

News of the proposal was revealed by health authority officials in a May 24 meeting with directors from the North West Regional Hospital District, the regional taxing authority which helps finance the purchase of health care equipment but which also advocates for improved emergency, hospital and community-based health care.

Its directors are made up of directors of three regional districts in the northwest and representatives of municipal councils in the northwest.

Based on the Northern Health presentation to the regional hospital district, City of Terrace councillor Sean Bujtas told city council when it met May 24 that housing would not be attached to Sonder House, the existing modular housing complex meant to ease the local homeless situation that’s located adjacent to Northern Health’s main Terrace building.

Northern Health officials were reluctant to provide any more information, saying questions were best directed toward the provincial mental health and addictions ministry which now has $164 million to open up to 500 complex care housing spaces over the next three years.

“The Ministry of Mental Health and Additions received proposals from all health authorities for complex care housing services in communities across B.C., including a proposal from Northern Health for complex care housing in Terrace,” a statement from the ministry indicated.

So far there have been announcements for complex care housing in Vancouver, Surrey, Abbotsford, Victoria, the Fraser Valley, Kelowna and Kamloops.

In May, 20 units were announced for Powell River on the Sunshine Coast and 12 in Bella Coola on the central coast. An idea of cost was not included in the announcements.

Of the announcements so far, only Powell River and Bella Coola might be considered more rural and remote although provincial position papers on complex housing indicate services for vulnerable people are more lacking outside of more urban settings.

“Comprehensive support services offered in the complex-care housing units will include traditional wellness workers, Elders, healers, knowledge holders and land-based healing programs,” a statement from the mental health and addictions ministry added.

“The spaces will offer a variety of other supports, depending on individual needs, such a mental-health workers, overdose prevention services, medication management, peer supports, skills training, and cooking and meal support.”

Housing and Homelessness