Brief time period housing opens in Windsor for homeless individuals dealing with psychological well being and drug disaster

Instead of being locked up or hospitalized, people without a home and suffering from a psychological or addictive crisis are no longer allowed to fall through the cracks.

The Safe Bed Short-Term Residential Crisis Housing Program opened on Monday in a home in downtown Windsor. It is a partnership between Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare (HDGH) and the local Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

People aged 16 and over are mainly sent to one of the center’s four beds by the police to help people in crisis situations without locking them up overnight.

“Police are people too. They know these people aren’t imprisoned, but often they have nowhere else to go,” said Stephen Govette, manager of housing, facilities and employment at CMHA.

“They know the person needs help and support, but there really was nowhere to go at 9 a.m. on a Saturday evening or 1:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning,” he said, adding that hospitalization may also not be appropriate.

Stephen Govette is the Housing, Facilities and Employment Manager for the local Canadian Mental Health Association. He hopes to be able to expand the Safe Bed range one day. (Jason Viau / CBC)

Tramps or petty crime related to a person’s mental health or addiction are some examples of when someone may be referred to the Safe Bed program instead of incarceration.

Learn useful skills

In addition to a place to sleep and a warm shower, the CMHA offers more than just resources for mental health at home. From doing laundry to dealing with landlords, people are expected to learn the basics of how to maintain their own place.

“I think so often are people put into a unit to live in, but they don’t have the skills to stay and maintain it,” said Zoey Azlen, a life skills associate at CMHA at the Safe Bed Center . “I think that’s what we’re really trying to give them a decent foundation.”

Zoey Azlen, Life Skills Worker at the Canadian Mental Health Association, will help people work toward independent lives. (Jason Viau / CBC)

Funding from the Department of Health and Long-Term Care has helped make this year-long plan a reality. Approximately $ 335,000 was spent renovating the home, adding security features and a sprinkler system.

At the moment the program runs from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. During the day, program participants are expected to visit the HDGH’s Transitional Stability Center (TSC) for programming, meals, and support.

As it is not a compulsory part of the program, there is a risk that those seeking help will get into trouble.

“It’s certainly a possibility, but I think the fact that the meals are off-site will bring them to the TSC for the food,” said Govette. “As soon as they get through the door and realize that there is a place that has something to offer, they’ll take advantage of some of these other programs and services – that’s the hope anyway.”

A home in downtown Windsor is used to run the Safe Bed program, which includes common areas for the people who live there for up to 30 days. (Jason Viau / CBC)

The short stay may not be longer than 30 days. Then those in need are referred to other resources in the community.

The CMHA offers rent subsidies and supportive housing. You may also be referred to an addiction program, a retirement home, a rental program, or the Downtown Mission.

“The goal of this program is to let the person feel comfortable and then begin to manage the crisis that brought them here,” said Govette.

Space to grow

Although the Safe Beds program only occupies the ground floor, there is room for growth. There is space for a further eight beds on the partially renovated upper floor.

“The biggest hurdles will be budget and funding. We need additional staff for that,” said Govette.

Later, Govette hopes to get more cash to run the center around the clock. There are currently two clinic employees and a security guard present in the afternoons. A clinical team member is on site overnight.

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