What is bridge housing?
Bridge housing is not a temporary overnight shelter where people have to leave during the day and return at night. It does not offer walk-in service or support.
Bridge housing helps people transition quickly from sleeping outside to being permanently housed. It does this by providing a safe space to stabilize and focus on the search for housing in a supportive environment.
Residents stay for an average of 30 to 90 days before moving into housing that works for them.
Who will live here?
Residents enter bridge housing through an intake process managed by Homeward Trust. They are people who want to be housed and are on the road to permanent housing. All residents will be over 18.
There are 36 dorm rooms with a maximum capacity of 78 people. Even at single occupancy, there is potential to transition at least 150 people out of homelessness each year.
There will be a minimum of 2-3 staff on-site at any given time. During day shifts, there will be up to 6 on-site staff offering support services to residents. Residents will receive on-site health, well-being and housing support.
Why did the City choose this location?
The dormitory on Exhibition Lands is an unused City asset that is purpose built for accommodations and will allow the City to provide bridge housing quickly and cost-effectively. A similar building on the private market would cost $2.4-5 million. Rehabilitating the dormitory will cost approximately $600,000.
The building housed jockeys racing at Northlands until 2018. It’s currently empty; the building is up to code and it requires minimal work to make it safe and ready for residents.
City staff sought the expertise of several housing operators and gave them a tour of the space. The housing operators confirmed that the dormitory was an appropriate site for bridge housing and provided advice on how to set it up for successful operation.
What renovations are being done to get the building ready for occupancy?
The building does not require significant renovations to make it ready for residents.
Renovations will focus on the interior of the building; primarily repainting of walls, flooring repairs, and installation of new washroom fixtures.
The exterior of the building will not change significantly. Doors and windows will be replaced, as needed, and a fence will be built to separate the building from the rest of Exhibition Lands.
While renovations are underway between August and October, there will be an increase in onsite activities related to the coming and going of building tradespeople and the delivery of construction materials.
Parking for construction vehicles and workers commuting to the site will be accommodated by the onsite parking located to the north of the building.
Who will be responsible for operating the bridge housing?
On June 22, City Council approved a below-market lease to Homeward Trust. The lease is for 3 years with an option to extend for another 2 years. There is also a 180 day termination clause should the building or land be needed as part of the Exhibition Lands redevelopment
Homeward Trust will issue a Request for Proposals to select a trusted operator in the sector that can deliver this service. Operating costs will be covered by Homeward Trust.
Renovations will take place over the summer so that residents can be ready to move in by fall 2020.
What is being done to ensure the surrounding community isn’t impacted by this residence?
It’s important to understand that the social disorder often associated with homelessness — like litter, needle debris or disruptive behaviour — is a symptom of a lack of housing and appropriate support. Bridge housing is the part of the solution.
The residence will have 24/7 on-site supervision. There will be a minimum of 2 staff on-site at any given time. During day shifts, there will be up to 6 on-site staff offering support services to residents.
There will be a secure entrance at the front of the building and the bridge housing residents will not have access to the rest of the Exhibition Lands site. Security will continue to patrol the rest of the Exhibition Lands site.
The operator will set standards for behaviour for the residents. If those standards are not met, it is possible that a resident would have to leave the bridge housing program.
What input does the community have?
The City is asking for your input on a Good Neighbour Plan for the Bridge Housing on Exhibition Lands.
A Good Neighbour Plan is a tool for developing and maintaining a positive relationship between bridge housing and the communities it is a part of. This is achieved through a commitment to mutual proactive engagement, contribution and neighbourliness.
The plan will include information about the community service agency that will operate the site, outline the shared responsibility between Homeward Trust, the service provider and residents of neighbouring communities, and identify who the community can contact with concerns or questions.