Governments fund housing supports for those with mental health issues

Brian Howell, manager at River Bank Development Corporation. -- Herald file photo

Over $600,000 earmarked for Prince Albert complex

Bianca Bharti, Daily Herald

Prince Albert’s Canadian Mental Health Association (PACMHA) will receive funding to build a new six-unit apartment building that will provide affordable housing for people with “complex needs and mental illness,” according to a press release by the Saskatchewan government.

On Monday, representatives from all levels of government, announced the news in Saskatoon.

Both the federal and provincial governments will provide $6.7 million in funding to various communities across Saskatchewan to support housing initiatives.

The PACMHA will receive $612,500 in government funding to build the new complex.

“(The money) allows us to build in the first place. The cost of building a new apartment building and the rents that people would charge to pay for that are exorbitant,” said Doug Kinar, executive director at PACMHA.

Affordable housing is a really big need in the city, said Brian Howell, manager at River Bank Development Corporation. “Many people don’t have sufficient income to afford the housing that’s available.”

The new apartments will provide tenants with a support worker that will help them manage tasks such as budgeting, creating grocery lists, planning menus and maintaining personal hygiene.

“(The support worker) will help them live independently,” Kinar said.

PACMHA currently runs two assistive apartments, each with eight units.

The new project will bring in federal and provincial money, stimulating the economy and creating jobs, Howell said. It also brings “needed” social services.

Affordable and social housing help eliminate other issues, he said. When people have a stable roof over their head, they’re less likely to put strain on healthcare services and less likely to end up on the police’s radar, he said.

Funding that Saskatchewan communities receives is part of the National Housing Strategy by the federal government.

“With $40 billion over the next 10 years, our government’s first ever National Housing Strategy will continue to make a difference in communities across Canada,” Minister of Status of Women Maryam Monsef said in Saskatoon.

The strategy will fund seven projects in seven communities, creating more than 53 affordable housing units. These include $2.54 million for affordable senior homes in La Ronge, $1.1 million for nine family rental units in Pinehouse Lake, $765,000 for a co-housing project that houses mothers with HIV in Saskatoon.