July 16th, 2024

LHA seeking bylaw amendments to better house clients

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on December 1, 2022.

Herald photo by Al Beeber The Castle Apartments are the focus of one application for land use rezoning which will be addressed Dec. 13 in a public hearing at City Hall.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The Lethbridge Housing Authority wants to help people living in its facilities avoid eviction.

So it is applying for land use bylaw amendments for the Castle Apartments on 2 Ave. S. and Halmrast Apartments on 5 Ave. S.

Public hearings on both applications will be held on Dec. 13 at 3 p.m.

Robin James, chief administrative officer of Lethbridge Housing Authority, on Wednesday said the requests are to provide 24-hour supports for residents.

Halmrast Manor is a 10-storey seniors apartment building containing 142 suites.

Castle Apartments consists of two buildings downtown a block off Scenic Drive South.

The purpose of the amendments, said James, is not to seek to use the buildings as shelters.

If the amendments are approved, then the LHA will be able to offer the services that will enable residents to stay in their residences.

The authority is hosting an open house tonight at 6 p.m. in its office at 314 3 St. S. on the Halmrast application for apartment building neighbours and a second one on Monday at the same time and location to address Castle Apartments with its neighbours.

“We’re hoping to be able to answer any questions at that time and address any issues including the issue with exactly what we’re doing,” said James.

“We are already taking people out of homelessness and we are housing them into certain buildings. And what we’re finding is we’re struggling to keep them housed because of some of the behaviours that they come with such as guest management, which is a big one,” said James.

“What we’re trying to do with the supportive housing is we’re trying to create a safe space for people and allow them the ability to have someone at the front door” who can refuse entry to unauthorized people who are trying to stay for lengthy periods in units with family or others. This door person could help people trying to gain access to the buildings to start going through their own process of intake, she added.

“We looked at our eviction rate and honestly it’s way too high. Our mandate is to try to keep people housed so we just feel that with the supports in place, we’ll be able to actually do that,” added James.

“We are already housing them,” she said of the city’s homeless. “Now we’re just trying to take the next step to keep them housed. They’re already in our buildings, they’re already in these two complexes. We are literally just trying to keep them there,” James said.

“How do you keep people who are vulnerable safely housed and away from people who are going to put their housing at risk?” said James.

“If we can get some sort of support at that front door, once people are stable and secure in their housing and have the ability to say ‘no’ to negative behaviours and negative guests, then we have the opportunity to transition them throughout our portfolio once their stably housed, said James.

“We just want to really make sure people know we’re not in the business of shelter, we’re in the business of housing. It’s who we’re helping already. We’re just taking the next step.”

James says behaviours won’t change until people get into housing.

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