Sometimes it is just time to do something.
Two nurses, Taylor Roch and Teneil Arcand, at Yukon’s withdrawal services decided that the clients they were seeing needed safe sober places to live.
The two had talked about the importance of recovery housing when they were in nursing school together two years ago. Then, working in the Yukon, the need became crystal clear.
“We felt our clients weren’t getting a fair shot at success without sober living houses and aftercare in the territory, and we decided to do something about it,” Roch, organizer of the newly formed Spring Home Society, told the News on March 21.
“We were super sad to see our clients go from completing the treatment program, only to go right back to the shelter and other housing options that wouldn’t be feasible for their goals, which were typically sobriety or harm reduction.”
The pair got serious and curious. Roch diligently researched options, looked to Outside models in British Columbia and spoke with many recovery home operators on Vancouver Island and beyond. They carefully considered ways to move forward.
“We decided that the time was kind of now,” she said.
“Given the needs and urgency of the substance use health emergency, we felt, if we wait for governments to do it, it might take a super long time.”
They consulted with similar organizations working in the housing and substance use fields in the Yukon. Roch said they were all very encouraging, but none of them felt that they had the capacity to start something so big themselves.
“We decided to go all in and start a non-profit dedicated to developing and implementing recovery-oriented housing and support services to Yukoners.”
They put out a call for board members last December and incorporated the Spring Home Recovery Society in January.
“We had our first meeting Dec. 15, 2022, where I was voted in as volunteer executive director. We’re completely volunteer based.”
Right now they are partnering with the Council of Yukon First Nations to find out the depth of community support.
“We assume there’s a need for sober living house, but that’s quite different than the community voicing that need. And we didn’t want to prescribe what the community wants.”
To that end, the society designed a community needs assessment to see if Yukoners want recovery housing and what kind they would want. They also wanted to assess the current strengths of the community in regards to substance use services.
“One of our questions is, do you think the territory needs in-territory recovery houses? Every single respondent so far has entered yes.”
Roch says that is good, but “it’s almost super sad, because it’s a huge need.”
Roch told the News about going to the shelter to conduct interviews with people there.
“Every single respondent that spoke with us was wanting in-territory recovery housing,”
She described how her clients at detox tell her how they get nervous before discharge, and from the treatment centres, both in and out of territory.
“They’re scared to [leave] because we’re in a housing crisis. They’re just going back to the shelter after a five-week program, like how is anyone supposed to stay sober there? It’s just not feasible.”
The survey is open until March 31 and can be accessed by sending an email from the contact form at springhomesociety.ca. The group expects to have a report available by mid-April.
Contact Lawrie Crawford at firstname.lastname@example.org