A group of Rutland residents has responded to claims they misinterpreted data about the effectiveness of supportive housing.
The Rutland for Safe Neighbourhood group is opposed to the use of drugs and alcohol at the planned McCurdy Road site, and they collected more than 14,000 signatures on a petition, prompting the city to make it a dry facility.
Carson McPherson of the BC Centre on Substance Use told Castanet last week that providing safe and affordable housing for someone living with an addiction is a critical aspect of support and aids in their recovery.
McPherson said the petition organizers misinterpreted data from a centre report to paint supportive housing in a negative light.
“It is unfortunate that they assumed that we misinterpreted data – we observed, read the news and connected with others in efforts to seek information," the Rutland group responded. "We have been told by various agencies that data shows no negative impact on the surrounding area around wet or dry facilities. We have yet to receive that data from any source.
“We agree supportive housing has a vital role. There are many kinds, so let’s be clear. We are opposed to wet or dry supportive housing near our vulnerable population."
The group agrees with McPherson there are many pathways to recovery. However, the targeted support services McPherson mentioned as reason to back the facility "do not exist anywhere near the proposed McCurdy supportive housing project."
“When we were petitioning, we had recovered addicts come to us and sign the petition, stating that they would not be clean and sober if they had lived in a building where others could do or be on drugs. We are compassionate and believe that this model, and the location, are not conducive to a healthy resident, or surrounding community."
Instead, the group would like to see a community-centred model based on proven effectiveness in similar cities and including a plan for treatment.
"As per the report from Jane Thornthwaite, supportive housing was very low on the list as far as success, showing only a 30% success. However, programs using a 12-step model reported 90%-plus success rate. Why would we not choose a program with a proven track record?
"These types of 'BandAid' approaches are not the solution, and we must address the root causes – addiction and mental health... Although death rates are down, overdose rates are skyrocketing, which translates to medical personnel reviving the same person multiple times. This is not helping to solve their problems ... it is in fact keeping them trapped in a drug-induced state where they are incapable of supporting themselves."