Mon. May 23rd, 2022

In the past year, mayors have asked the province to fund “complex nursing homes.” Today, Victoria finally made some promises.

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The provincial government plans to open “first of its kind” complex nursing homes for the most difficult-to-accommodate people living on the streets, with new rooms to help about 100 people planned for Surrey, Vancouver and Abbotsford.

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The first rooms are due to open in Surrey in March, Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction, said on Thursday. The others are to open “in the coming months.”

She called this a “pioneering” approach to people with extreme overlapping needs and said they could not get the help they needed in the current housing and health care system. It will also build “healthier communities,” she said, because many of the people who need this care are on the streets.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said there would be a total of 56 rooms in the two Vancouver locations, calling the creation of this new type of service a “game-changer” because it brings in-depth support right into people’s homes.

The occupants of these new rooms must receive services to help them with mental illness, drug use, trauma, brain damage, jobs, personal care and cultural support.

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The BC Urban Mayors Caucus, set up at the start of the pandemic by mayors from 13 cities, renewed its request last week to the provincial government to fund housing for people in their communities with the most complex needs, those with severe dependence and mental challenges making them almost impossible to house.

The mayors of Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, New Westminster, Prince George, Richmond, Saanich, Surrey, Vancouver and Victoria, began in the summer of 2020 to request that this residence be operational “within a few months. , not years. “

“We can not stress enough how urgently our community needs this complex care (housing) in place,” Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said in a statement last week.

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Mayors say this type of housing is necessary for people who have overlapping mental illness, drug use, trauma and brain damage and are increasingly falling through the cracks because they do not fit into existing support housing or the long-term health care system. , and as a result end up in a justice system that is ill-equipped to handle their many challenges.

On Thursday, Helps said that although she wished rooms had been funded for her town, she is overall pleased that the province has committed to funding these complex care spaces. Many more than 100 rooms are needed across the province, she added, so she hopes next month’s provincial budget will include more money for more rooms in the future.

Dr. Victoria Lee, head of Fraser Health, said on Thursday that this type of housing is particularly needed during the fatal overdose crisis, which kills an average of five people every day in BC.

lculbert@postmedia.com

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