Andrew Wilkinson makes inaccurate statements about supportive modular housing

VICTORIA – BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson has been repeating a myth that supportive modular housing units do not have accompanying supports for mental health and addictions. Wilkinson told Global today:

“They haven’t provided the kind of services and recognition of the level of addiction amongst these people that will result in a better outcome. There’s a much better example in Victoria, at 844 Johnson Street, where a similar group of people was moved from a tent camp at the courthouse to this place on Johnson Street, and initially it didn’t go so well, but it’s been stabilized by having on-site managers 24 hours a day, by having people providing addictions services, by having doctors and nurses going by the location, providing the services. That’s what Maple Ridge is expecting. That’s what Maple Ridge is asking for, and the provincial government is basically putting people in boxes and saying it’s all about housing. And they’re ignoring the addiction issue.”

But a simple review of the project’s online engagement page shows that what he claims is not happening is the exact model being used in Maple Ridge:

Coast Mental Health will be the building operator, providing 24-hour support to residents. Supportive housing is a self-contained home with supports provided on-site, to ensure people can achieve and maintain housing stability. Supports include outreach workers, wellness checks, life skills training, employment assistance, and referral to community services and support groups. Residents are connected to counselling, as well as health, mental health, and addiction recovery services. (Link)

The site will be run by Coast Mental Health, an operator specialized in providing mental health and addictions services. Coast Mental Health provides information on their website about the 24/7 supports in the units:

“Coast will care for tenants and the management of the building. This includes 24/7 days a week supports for tenants, including individualized support plans and supports to external health services, as well as employment opportunities for tenants to make connections with other community groups… A total of 14 staff members will provide rotating shifts 24/7, 365 days a year. Coast staff includes trained mental health workers, an on-site manager, home support staff, a seven day a week cook, as well as maintenance staff. Additionally, we provide 24/7 on-call support to our team.” (Link)

And BC Housing’s website makes it clear that supportive housing units are specifically intended to house people facing challenges with mental health and addictions:

“If you’re applying to supportive housing, you may require supports related to mental health and/or substance use and/or other challenges that may put you at higher risk of homelessness.” (Link)