Plans for transitional housing sees setback

There's only one non-profit organization considered qualified to run a new transitional home in Whitehorse for people with mental illnesses.

There’s only one non-profit organization considered qualified to run a new transitional home in Whitehorse for people with mental illnesses. And this organization’s bid for the contract was over budget, so the Department of Health and Social Services cancelled the tender.

The department insists that the project, to house people who are homeless or hard to house, is still going forward and everything will open on time in July.

They are negotiating with the qualified organization to try and get things within budget.

All of this is within the rules of the tendering process, according to health spokesperson Pat Living.

But nobody is being very forthcoming with any details.

In March the Yukon government issued the tender looking for a non-profit group to run the day-to-day operations of a new transitional home. The Health Department would handle any treatment.

According to government documents, the new facility will house people with “diagnosed, persistent mental health challenges” who are homeless or in an unstable housing environment.

Residents could live there for between six months and two years while they work towards living more independently. Skill development will include cooking, finances, cleaning and reading.

The cancelled tender was made public Monday on the government’s website.

It initially looked like Health Minister Mike Nixon would answer questions about the tender’s cancellation, but late yesterday afternoon questions were referred to the department.

Three organizations submitted proposals by the time the tender closed, said Living. But only one of those three was “technically qualified.”

Living said she didn’t have details on how the other two contenders didn’t meet the project’s criteria. Living also said she didn’t know how over budget the qualified organization’s bid was. She refused to name the organization.

The qualified group was actually offering the government more than what it asked for, said Living. That could explain why the budget was higher than expected.

They had expanded the scope of the programming that they were willing to offer and the number of staff, she said.

The new transitional home will be at the former home of the Options of Independence Society on Fourth Avenue. The facility is designed to house between five and eight clients.

When that group, which offers supportive living for people with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, moved into a bigger facility in February of last year, the building went back into government stock.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com