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'First-of-its-kind' recovery program aims to break Tri-Cities, New West homeless cycle

A new Fraser Health complex-care service hopes to house and heal residents facing mental health and addiction challenges.
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There's a new facility in New Westminster for those facing mental health and addictions challenges in the city, as well as those in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore and Belcarra.

Complex-care housing.

According to the province, it's a "first-of-its-kind" approach to breaking the cycle of homelessness and help residents facing health issues get back on their feet.

As of today (March 24), those in the Tri-Cities and New Westminster with mental health and addiction challenges can access such voluntary services as the B.C. government adds a 15th facility to its complex-care network.

Fraser Health is set to oversee operations for the housing program, which will be located at the New Westminster Mental Health and Substance Use Centre (403 Sixth St.).

It's set to provide space and care for up to 17 people experiencing issues or homelessness in Coquitlam, New Westminster, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore and Belcarra.

Fraser Health spokesperson Chelsea Robinson said complex-care looks to deliver "wraparound health and housing support to individuals who have not found success with previous service types."

"Our team is dedicated to helping people with mental-health and substance-use challenges overcome barriers to stable housing and health care," she added in a news release. 

"We are grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the community."

Social services set to be distributed through the regional complex-case housing program include:

  • Counselling and psychotherapy
  • Crisis assessment and intervention
  • Housing and landlord support
  • Medication prescription, administration, monitoring and documentation
  • Rent supplements
  • Self-management skills
  • Social, interpersonal relationship and leisure-time activity services
  • Substance-use treatment
  • Support with basic necessities of daily life
  • Work-related services

As well, outreach teams will be mobilized to connect and support the transition for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness that wish to utilize the network.

"Once enrolled, a specialized plan will be created to meet each individual's needs," explained Jennifer Whiteside, MLA for New Westminster and B.C.'s mental health and addictions minister.

"Everyone in B.C. deserves to feel safe and live with dignity," Whiteside added.

In February, the provincial government's 2023 budget unveiled a $266-million investment for its complex-care housing program, adding to the $164-million foundation cemented in 2022.

The initiative's goal to is open a total of 500 spaces by 2025.

"In a time where more people are struggling with mental-health and addiction challenges, it's important to make sure that supports are available to meet people where they're at," added Rick Glumac, MLA for Port Moody-Coquitlam.

"New complex-care housing services will bring supports to the people who need them in our community so that they can find or maintain their housing and heal at home."