The province is spending $4.5 million on a new housing facility in Kenora. Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark joined his cabinet colleague Greg Rickford for the announcement this afternoon at Seven Generations.
“This new facility does more than just put a roof over people’s heads, it offers the supports for those struggling with addiction and an opportunity to thrive,” says Clark.
The facility will house up to 30 Indigenous people, who experience chronic homelessness. The space will also offer programs for those struggling with addictions. Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services will build and operate the facility, including the supportive housing program.
“Providing better access to housing and support services will make a real difference for Indigenous peoples living in Kenora,” adds Rickford, who is the Minister of Indigenous Affairs and the MPP for Kenora-Rainy River. “Indigenous communities deserve the same opportunities that all Ontarians have come to expect.”
The project expands on existing efforts.
Implemented in August of 2016, the Detox First program aimed to reduce the number of intoxicated people being brought to police detachment cells, and to provide various supports for those in need at the Morningstar Detox Centre in Kenora.
Between 2012 and 2016, the OPP were averaging between 1,394 and 2,024 lockups for intoxicated people in detachment cells. In 2017, following the implementation of the Detox First program, that number fell to under 500. From 2015 to 2017, there was a $170,000 decrease in guarding costs.
Staff at the hospital say clients in the program have difficulty staying in housing, and their managed alcohol program started in 2017 with five patients.
The program includes physician-prescribed alcohol, specialized physician care, mental health and addictions counselling, nutrition and support from the Morningstar Centre staff. Renovations were made to the Morningstar Centre and additional staff were hired to house and support the program.
Northwestern Ontario has some of the highest rates of alcoholism in the province. The location for the 30-unit building will be on Ninth Street North between the armouries and the former mill property.
Service board staff are hoping to have foundations in place by fall, so construction can continue over the winter months. Once complete, they'll be the first major social housing project completed in the city in over a generation.
This afternoon's announcement followed this morning's opening for the service hub downtown, where 44 beds are now available -- along with supports -- for those in need of shelter and help getting back on their feet.
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