The Junction, a 46-unit supportive housing project in Courtenay opened in April this year. Photo by Terry Farrell

Junction tenant questions safety at Courtenay’s supportive housing facility

“When I first moved in, I felt safe. I don’t feel safe now.”

Marion Oppel tries to spend as much time away from her home at The Junction because she doesn’t feel safe, and said despite bringing complaints to staff, nothing has been done.

But according to the John Howard Society of North Island, which operates the building and provides services to its residents, safety for all who live in the three-storey modular apartment building on 8th Street in Courtenay, is their primary concern.

The Junction, a 46-unit supportive housing project which was opened in April this year, is a housing facility for people experiencing homelessness. Each unit has a kitchenette and washroom, and the ground floor includes a commercial-grade kitchen, common dining area and laundry facilities.

Oppel, who moved into her unit at the end of April, said she has witnessed tenants physically and verbally abusing each other in the public areas.

RELATED: 46-unit supportive housing project opens in Courtenay

She said she has brought the issue up to on-site staff and has filed two formal complaints with the John Howard society. While staff has informed her some tenants are dealing with addiction or mental health issues, Oppel noted that is no excuse to allow abuse to other tenants.

“When I first moved in, I felt safe. I don’t feel safe now. (Staff) has to step up and deal with this – it’s making all of us look bad – there’s a stigma,” she explained.

“A lot of us are not bad, and it’s not what we want to be.”

After about five months at The Junction, Oppel is now looking at alternative housing. Residents at The Junction pay $375 a month – the social assistance shelter allowance provided by the B.C. government. (Rent includes two meals a day).

Other housing options will be above her budget, she explained, and paying rent outside The Junction will cut into her monthly food budget, but Oppel said moving into a new residence is worth it.

Wendy Richardson, executive director of the John Howard Society of North Island said the role of The Junction is not that of affordable housing, rather supportive housing.

“We do occasionally get complaints, but we are low-barrier housing for street-entrenched individuals and many have mental health and addiction issues. The goal for us is that they become healthy, and we are a different kind of housing that might meet their needs.”

The intent for the JHS is to deliver a program that will help tenants achieve stability in housing while supporting them in accessing community-based services that will optimize health and wellness.

Richardson explained if a disruption takes places with tenants, staff are well-trained but it doesn’t mean a tenant will be evicted.

“We work in a very progressive way, and people are learning how to cope. Staff will step in and they are on site. When we are dealing with some tenants they have issues that are deeply embedded and we have to strike a balance where we enforce rules with a level of comfort; that doesn’t happen overnight.”

As the housing is considered supportive, Richardson said they provide a home for those who otherwise would not be able to manage living by themselves, which is one of the reasons food is included. Some tenants, she added, are chronically ill.

There have been a few people who have been asked to leave The Junction, but she added there have been “very, very few situations where someone was harmed.”

As for those such as Oppel who are looking to leave, Richardson said there is a success to be found, as The Junction was used a stepping stone.

“She has a roof over her head while she is searching, is able to manage by herself and has access to services to assist, which is leading her to search for affordable housing. She may not have had access to that previously.”



erin.haluschak@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fanny Bay residents fed up with problem house

A delegation from Fanny Bay has appealed to regional district directors to… Continue reading

Merville’s annual Garlic Fest a ‘stinking good time’

Once again, it is time to hold your nose and prance on… Continue reading

Cumberland resident finds prized possession from childhood

Corrina Mahoney was scanning the 24 Hour Bidding site and happened upon… Continue reading

Courtenay seeking input on community goals and growth

Survey participants could win $100 gift certificates

Comox holds off on mask proclamation

Local doctor called for language to encourage people, businesses to support maks

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Charlie’s Car Wash in Courtenay raising funds for YANA

Michael Seib the owner of Charlie’s Auto Wash (beside Value Village) in… Continue reading

Five B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Nanaimo woman will buy ‘supersonic’ hair dryer after $500,000 lotto win

Debra Allen won $500,000 in July 28 Lotto Max draw

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

Cougar euthanized after attacking little dog in Qualicum area

Owner freed pet by whacking big cat, but dog didn’t survive the attack

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Most Read