Mayor Christian Provenzano threw his full support behind new supportive housing to help tackle the homelessness crisis.
In a presentation to council, which addressed the role of the District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services Administration Board and the challenges it faces, CEO Mike Nadeau pointed to the need for supportive housing as critical.
“We need to get supportive housing online,” he said.
Nadeau said putting people in hotels across the city without 24-7 support is a very difficult thing to manage. He also said it sets the homeless up for failure if they can’t handle living unsupervised and then behave in ways that make it hard, if not impossible, for them to access future housing support.
In his presentation, Nadeau outlined that the city only has ten (10) 24-7 supportive housing units. There is an additional 13 units that are provided with semi-supports for eight (8) hours a day. There is a need for up to 60 supportive housing units in the community, says Nadeau. Supports needed include:
• Mental Health & Addiction Services
• Harm reduction,
• Cultural Services,
• Room cleaning
A 60-unit supportive housing complex requires approximately $3M in new annual funding over a 20 year period.
Supportive Housing requires three items at a cost of approximately $50,000 per year per bed:
1. New Capital Investment (DSSAB can provide),
2. Rent Subsidy (DSSAB can assist),
3. Health and Personnal Supports, which will need help from federal and provincial governments since it is a health care issue.
Provenzano said that in context, the cost of a 60-unit supportive housing building is worth the investment.
“Our ratepayers pay it anyway in significant costs downstream,” said Provenzano, who added the city needs a plan in place and it needs to make it happen.