Supportive housing shortfall remains

Those who need the most help with housing are falling through the cracks, says the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition. There simply aren't enough supportive housing units in Whitehorse to meet demand.

Those who need the most help with housing are falling through the cracks, says the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition.

There simply aren’t enough supportive housing units in Whitehorse to meet demand.

Last year, in it’s housing action plan, the coalition detailed the housing crisis and proposed a number of solutions.

But more than a year later, little has changed, especially for those in need of supportive housing, according to the coalition’s recently released progress report.

That includes everyone from seniors, people with FASD, cognitive and physical disabilities, mental health issues and those with active addictions.

“It’s a diverse population,” said Laurie MacFeeters, who sits on the coalition’s housing task force.

These people often need support to keep a roof over their heads, she said. With limited options available many of them end up living in hotels, in shelters and on the street.

It’s unjust, said MacFeeters.

“We believe they have the right to such housing,” she said.

The housing task force isn’t sure how many people need supportive-housing services.

“There are at least 100 homeless people but that’s probably a very small number in comparison with the reality,” said Kate Mechan, a member of the task force.

There are a number of organizations that offer similar services to these clients, but there’s little co-ordination between them, she said.

Mechan tried to spearhead one effort to provide a co-ordinated response last year, but it died for lack of government support.

The Northern City Supportive Housing Coalition had plans to build a 20-room supported apartment complex in downtown Whitehorse. It also sought to coordinate the efforts of the various groups serving that population.

“It was one of the reasons that made the proposal unique,” said Mechan.

The idea was to pool scarce resources and cut through the red tape that often discourages people from getting the help they need, she said.

“It’s a full-time job for someone to go around and access all of the services they need, to have their basic needs met,” said Mechan.

Northern City got $10,000 in seed money from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the backing of several banks. But it also needed a $900,000 investment from the Yukon government to get off the ground.

At the time, the government was sitting on $18 million in federal housing money. The building season came and went without a word from government. Eventually, Northern City withdrew its proposal.

But, since the territorial election, there may be renewed interest in the idea.

One of the few bright spots in the progress report was the fact that the government had held two meetings to discuss the project.

The territory has also expanded its home-care program to the tune of $457,000. And Options for Independence, a non-profit organization that helps people with FASD, received $2 million to help expand the supported housing complex it runs.

Currently, that organization houses nine people.

It’s still drawing up plans for the expansion, but at minimum, the investment should allow the organization to double its capacity, said director Terry Molnar.

Lately, Options has had to turn people away.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking at times to realize that there’s no options for them at the moment,” said Molnar.

The coalition’s progress report had many blank spots.

Though requests were made by the coalition, very little information was received from government departments.

The Department of Health and Social Services won’t comment until the coalition releases its third and final progress report next week, said spokesperson Pat Living.

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speak at a COVID-19 update press conference in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. On Nov. 24, Silver and Hanley announced masks will be mandatory in public places as of Dec. 1, and encouraged Yukoners to begin wearing masks immediately. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Masks mandatory in public places starting on Dec. 1

“The safe six has just got a plus one,” Silver said.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read