John Howard Society administrators and staff members have seen a noticeable decrease in the number of complaints from neighbours since The Junction supportive housing development opened in Courtenay last year.
The John Howard Society of North Island (JHSNI) operates the 46-suite complex at 988 Eighth St., across from the Kiwanis Village for seniors. The tenants are individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. The building is staffed 24/7. Employees are trained in trauma-informed practice and non-violent intervention.
Courtenay council faced a great deal of pushback before approving The Junction’s location. After it opened, some neighbours complained about increased levels of noise, garbage and drug use. Some people had been feeling unsafe, and unheard.
Colleen Ross, manager of finance and administration at JHSNI, said ongoing engagement efforts by program staff, residents and community partners have benefitted the community.
“These continuous efforts and relationship building have contributed to greater responsiveness and solutions that benefit not only The Junction Program but the neighbourhood and community at large,” she said.
Altered outdoor spaces — namely relocating bike locks and smoking areas to the back of the building — might also have had a positive impact on the neighbourhood, in terms of reducing and rerouting foot traffic. Ross also notes that increasing the availability of essential goods in-house has reduced the need for residents to venture out for these goods.
“You have been both sensitive and responsive to our concerns and as a result, our neighbourhood is noticeably calmer,” area resident Bev Miller said. “We recognize that it is no easy balancing act to meet the needs of your vulnerable tenants as well as those of your closest neighbours, and we applaud your success in this regard.”