Housing minister Pauline Frost announced a new multi-unit housing first initiative which will be located in downtown Whitehorse. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon government announces housing first project for Whitehorse

‘It’s too early to quote an amount of money,’ housing minister says of $2.7M project

Housing minister Pauline Frost announced a new housing first initiative in downtown Whitehorse with fanfare but few details Nov. 22.

The project will see the design of a multi-unit building at Fifth Avenue and Wood Street meant to house homeless individuals in Whitehorse. The Department of Health and Social Sevices and the Yukon Housing Corporation will team up to build the complex, which is intended to provide “affordable permanent housing to those who require ongoing support and care in addition to a place to live,” the government said via press release.

In an interview, Frost, who’s also the health and social services minister, said people who move into these units will not need to stay off alcohol or drugs while they are living there. The project is designed to give “immediate access” to housing, she said.

This makes the project the first true “housing first” initiative in the Yukon.

“We wanted to push this out right away and recognize that this has a certain philosophy behind it,” Frost said.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada defines housing first as “an approach that provides immediate access to permanent housing, in addition to flexible, community-based services for people who have experienced homelessness … without requiring psychiatric treatment or sobriety.”

In the press release, the government recognized housing first as “both a philosophy for housing provision and a clearly defined program model” and said it “will continue to use the core principles of housing first to guide its approach.”

Kristina Craig, co-ordinator for the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition (YAPC) said that the project will fill a gap in housing in the Yukon, although without more details it was hard for her organization to comment further.

“This will definitely be a benefit, we need a housing first program,” she said. “It’s definitely a good thing.”

“There is a huge need … for these services in the community.”

When asked for details about the program, including how much it would cost, Frost was unable to provide any information because the plan was still “in its early stages.”

“It’s too early to quote an amount of money,” she said. “At this point, we just don’t know.”

But request for proposals for a building issued jointly by the Yukon Housing Corporation and the health and social services department Nov. 20 included some of those details.

The RFP lists the proposed construction budget at around $2.7 million, not including design fees.

The proposed facility will have 15 bachelor-style units approximately of 400 square feet, with two of those units being slightly largely in order to accommodate two people. Each apartment will include a kitchenette with apartment-sized appliances. Windows will open “only partially” for security reasons, drywall will be impact-resistant and rooms will have bedbug resistant flooring and sealants between units.

On the main floor there will be two accessible units, a common living area, communal kitchen, staff office, mechanical and electrical room with separate entrances. If there is space available in the final design, this area will also contain a “healing” or “quiet” room for disturbed occupants. The building with be accessible by key fob 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with on-site staff supervision.

Proposed dates in the RFP include a contract award for the design process by Dec. 13, 2017, a conceptual approval by Jan. 26, 2018 and construction tender to be awarded May 25, 2018.

Residents in the units will pay rent which will be based on their income, said Pamela Hine, president of the housing corporation.

Frost said this is a standard practice and that the government has no intention of providing housing “free of charge.”

“There are housing first programs across the country with people living in them for the rest of their lives,” said Craig. “So paying rent in those scenarios just makes sense.”

The project is expected to be completed by June 30, 2019.

With files from Ashley Joannou

Contact Lori Fox at lori.fox@yukon-news.com

HousingWhitehorseYukon politics

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