The affordable housing pilot project at the Parkside Inn has had a sweeping effect on the number of times residents and surrounding neighbourhoods have come into contact with emergency services.
Protective & Social Services Director Chris Manuel says the year to date rates have dropped at a staggering rate.
“A level of interaction with police, EMS and the hospital, since the program started, they’ve seen a 50 per cent reduction in engagement with those services than prior to them participating in the program.”
While specific numbers have yet to be released, Manuel says it’s more than anecdotal. He adds he isn’t naive to the stigma that surrounded the building prior to the project being put in place. However, he firmly believes that a lot of it is misguided, especially on social media.
“They look for a landmark to reference; ‘oh, it’s associated to this facility, it’s associated to that facility’, wherein many instances it’s not associated to any of those facilities. It’s just people involved in criminality who are involved in criminality.”
The demographics for the project shows a fairly wide swath of the population. According to the city, the gender split is 43 per cent female to 57 per cent male. 88 per cent of the project participants were chronically homeless, 51 per cent were emergency shelter users, and 100 per cent have been diagnosed with physical or mental health issues.
A request for proposal has been sent out to organizations to take over the project on a full-time basis.