Giving Thanks for Permanent Housing with Supports

As you gather safely with family and friends this Thanksgiving, spare a moment to think of Basil. The 72-year-old will also be spending the holiday with loved ones, enjoying a dinner with all the trimmings at Coast Mental Health’s Dunbar Apartments.

More and more seniors need homes

Basil, who is bipolar and a recovering alcoholic, has lived in this enhanced supportive housing site since it opened nine years ago. When he thinks of what he is grateful for, he counts a permanent home with supports among his blessings.

Permanent housing with supports

Basil enjoys some quite time in the reading room at Dunbar Apartments.

“Before I became ill, I lived in my own apartment,” recalled Basil. “But after my bipolar diagnosis, I wasn’t able to deal with everyday situations including affording the rent.”

Basil spent about a year and a half living in a nearby group home but never felt comfortable there.

“It was temporary housing, and I never knew what my future would be. There was a lot of uncertainty and there weren’t as many people there to help me cope as there are here.”

The benefits of community-based supports

Dunbar Apartments opened in 2010 and provides 51 homes to vulnerable populations.

Coast Mental Health’s goal is to provide as many clients as possible with permanent housing with mental health supports as this offers them long-term solutions as they integrate into a community. When housed permanently, clients feel secure and stable, which is vital for their recovery.

An ordinary day will find Basil running or walking in his neighbourhood, or perhaps going for a swim.

He often joins his fellow tenants for a meal: breakfast is available three days a week, and dinner is offered every evening.

Basil also enjoys spending time socializing in the communal living area and is always eager to join in on organized bingo games.

Site staff—who are available 24/7—also offer individual client-centred supports including goal setting, harm reduction, and medication administration.

“The supports have helped me a lot,” said Basil, “and I like knowing that they’re there if I need them; I wouldn’t be as stable without them. The staff do a myriad of things for me that all add up.”

It is thanks to tenants like Basil that Dunbar Apartments blends so well into its community.

Dunbar Apts. is now an inherent part of the neighbourhood

Before the site opened, a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) was formed and  worked with neighbours to address their initial concerns about crime and property values. Neither of these became issues and the building and its residents are accepted as part of the neighbourhood.

Anil Singh, Board of Directors Chair at Coast Mental Health, was part of the CAC for Dunbar Apartments at the time.  He volunteered for the Committee because he was interested in building  diverse and inclusive neighbourhoods, which starts with incorporating community-based social housing. 

“With my experience in law enforcement, I recognize how important housing with wraparound supports are for people who may be struggling,” says Singh. When someone is unwell and in need of assistance, these daily supports reduce the need for emergency services to intervene. I am proud to be one of the local residents that welcomed our new neighbours.”

Yes, In My Backyard

With permanent housing and supports, people like Basil are better able to focus on their recovery and enjoy a better quality of life.

People with complex mental illnesses living without these vital supports often become overrepresented in the criminal justice system and fall through the cracks of our healthcare systems. Supporting people with mental health to live with dignity is instrumental in keeping our communities safe for everyone.

Visit our website to learn more about the Yes, In My Backyard campaign.

We also encourage you to share our goals with your networks using the hashtags #Yesinmybackyard and #Fundmentalhealth.


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Your donation to Coast Mental Health Foundation provides essential housing, support, and employment services for people with mental illness so they can find their meaningful place in our community – a place to live, a place to connect, and a place to work.



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