A Housing First project on Fifth Avenue and Wood Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 5, 2019. The John Howard Society and Council of Yukon First Nations will take over on April 6. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

A Housing First project on Fifth Avenue and Wood Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 5, 2019. The John Howard Society and Council of Yukon First Nations will take over on April 6. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Housing First takeover won’t result in program, staffing changes

The John Howard Society says they aren’t looking to fix what isn’t broken

The planned takeover of the Housing First residence on Wood Street won’t result in any immediate changes to service or staffing, according to the building’s new operator.

The John Howard Society will take over the building’s day-to-day operations on April 6 in partnership with the Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN), which will pick up cultural support and services.

The Housing First model aims to provide permanent housing to vulnerable people. Its first residents moved in last March.

“We recognize that we are taking over a program that, in many ways, is running well and met needs, so it wasn’t a case of takingit over because there were any specific issues that needed to be addressed,” said Mark Miller, CEO of John Howard Society Pacific.

The John Howard Society entered the Yukon’s non-profit ecosystem last May, when it opened a halfway house in a retrofitted unit of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.

Miller said that while the society is known for serving justice-involved clients, the pacific branch of the society has a wider mandate of community safety well suited to Housing First.

“We do a lot of work in the housing area in British Columbia, employment and wraparound supports to individuals with complex needs,” Miller said.

The society announced a new partnership with CYFN on Feb. 9. Miller told the News that the partnership will aid culturally safe operations at the Housing First residence.

“(We’re) recognizing we have a lot to learn about the Yukon and, in particular, services required by Indigenous people,” Miller said.

The CYFN will provide a “guiding voice” involved with case management and gaps in service for Indigenous residents, Miller explained.

There are no plans to halt currently operational services or lay off any staff, he continued.

The Housing First residence currently houses 18 people in 16 units. Residents are chosen using a by-name list stewarded by the local non-profit Safe at Home. A range of service providers worked to consider those most in need of 24-hour supports, explained Kate Mechan, Safe at Home executive director.

Mechan added that the residence appears to have succeeded in its mandate during its first year.

“There’s been no evictions in the first year that I know of,” Mechan said.

“The fact that they’ve managed to navigate whatever tricky situations there might be and support people to maintain their housing — that’s really amazing, and that’s a testament to the work of the staff and the relationships that they’ve built.”

Contact Gabrielle Plonka at gabrielle.plonka@yukon-news.com

Housing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A competitor takes a jump in front of a crowd at the Mount Sima Up Hill Challenge in Whitehorse on April 17. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Spring shred: Snowmobiles gather on Mount Sima for 2021 Uphill Challenge

Riders had a sunny and warm day on the hill, but still plenty of snowpack on the uphill course.

Sheila MacLean tosses her winter blues in the fire to be burned away in Whitehorse on March 24, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Burning permits will be revoked April 25

The Whitehorse Fire Department extended the open burning season

Maura Forrest/Yukon News File photos from Beaver Creek White River First Nation
Bessie Chassé elected as new chief of White River First Nation

“I was happy that the membership saw that I was ready for this position.”

X
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for April 21, 2021.… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Yukon MP Larry Bagnell speaks at an announcement in Whitehorse on July 8, 2019.
Federal budget includes changes to Northern Residents Deduction, minimum wage, green energy funds

The massive budget included some rare references to the territory.

Doug Bell photographed in Whitehorse in 2008, for an article about his role as Yukon Commissioner in the early 1980’s. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon remembers former commissioner Doug Bell

Bell passed away in Whitehorse on Sunday, at the age of 94.

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Whitehorse International Airport in Whitehorse on May 6, 2020.
NAV CANADA suspends review for Whitehorse airport traffic control

NAV CANADA announced on April 15 that it is no longer considering… Continue reading

A bulldozer levels piles of garbage at the Whitehorse landfill in January 2012. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Rural dump closures and tipping fees raise concern from small communities

The government has said the measures are a cost-cutting necessity

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

Joel Krahn/joelkran.com Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: Hands of Hope, the quilt of poppies

Toilets are important Ed. note: Hands of Hope is a Whitehorse-based non-profit… Continue reading

Most Read