Thank you Chair and members of regional council.
Firstly, I want to thank you for permitting me to talk on the issue of the supportive housing project in Beaverton which you approved a number of months ago. Also, I would like to point out that I am not here as a representative of the Township of Brock nor am I here representing the council of the Township of Brock.
I have been asked to speak to you today by residents of Brock Township who have questions and concerns about the project approved by this council in late July. Specifically, I have been asked to share concerns about possible activity at the approved location based on some related experiences.
As you may know, Durham Region Non-Profit Housing Corporation built and manages a 50-unit building in Cannington (in my ward) called Allan’s Place. It opened for tenancy this past summer. Now let me be clear, I realize that Durham Non-Profit Housing Corporation is a different entity than that of Durham Region and I understand that DRNPHC is not associated with the proposed Beaverton supportive housing project. However, DRNPHC is a municipal non-profit corporation of the region and it’s board of directors is made up completely of elected representatives of Durham Region council.
Allan’s Place over the years was promoted to residents of Brock and Durham Region as well as members of the council of the Township of Brock as a building which would be geared to seniors and nothing more. This promotion was done through press releases, newsletters and discussions with Brock council over the years by DRNPHC. In addition to seniors who have moved into the building this year are a number of individuals (not seniors) who suffer from disabilities including mental health issues, addiction problems, and the like (very much the kind of demographic that will move into Beaverton). I have expressed my concerns to DRNPHC that mixing individuals with social support needs such as these with seniors is, in my opinion, not likely a good mix. This brings me to the reason I’m speaking of Allan’s Place.
Allan’s Place has, in my opinion, become a sort of hybrid supportive housing project. Mixed with the vulnerable members of our society (seniors) are those with very specific needs (the aforementioned mental health and addiction problems). Things are not going well with that mix. In the three months since late June/early July to the end of September there have been an average of one police call to Allan’s Place per week with two arrests. Disturbances have included problems associated with drinking, yelling and harassment of residents, swearing at residents, and minor violent acts (expression used by DRPS).
While such occurrences may be “usual” for some tenancies I can assure you it is out of the ordinary for a small community like Cannington. I have personally been contacted by a number of seniors residing at Allan’s Place and these seniors — and their families — express concerns with what is going on including abusive language, fear of retribution if they say anything, fear of leaving their units, defecation in facility washing machines, etc. Seniors at the residence complain they are being “terrorized” at Allan’s Place. In fact, it has been reported to me recently that when some of the senior residents were compiling a petition after a young individual threatened an older resident with a knife. Luckily, there were apparently no physical injuries suffered.
Now admittingly, it would appear this is happening as a result of less than a handful of the residents at Allan’s Place. Allan’s Place has, from what I understand, a very small population of people who suffer from social support issues of mental health and addiction and the like. What the people of Brock are worried about is what kind of foreshadowing does this represent for the project in Beaverton.
Beaverton’s project will have a population of 50 individuals suffering from many of these same social support issues. The nearest police detachment to Beaverton is in another township over 40 kilometers away. Other services like an emergency room is much further than that. The individuals moving into the Beaverton supportive housing project will be under no obligation to utilize any treatment or wraparound services which may be provided there.
Finally, nobody denies the need for housing for every sector of our society just as nobody can deny that certain issues can be part of any supportive housing project and those issues are not always pleasant. Brock is a more remote community of Durham than most. With the social support problems the residents will suffer from coupled with residing in a unit barely over 300 square feet 365 days a year and little prospect for employment anywhere in the area I can only imagine the additional pressures that will be placed on these individuals and what that will do to their social support problems. Durham Region will be conducting a review of this location and its suitability through a third party. I certainly hope the issues I have described and the factors leading to them are considered in the review.
I thank you for your time and ask that you also seriously consider these matters.