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North Bay’s transitional housing complex nears completion

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As the Northern Pines transitional housing complex on Chippewa Street nears completion, officials are giving tours of the facility.

That includes representatives from the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board, North Bay Regional Health Centre and the Crisis Centre North Bay.

The complex aims to stop homelessness at its root cause. The facility will work in conjunction with the low-barrier shelter and transition people to a life of independence.

That includes Jamie McDonald, who is on his way to living an independent life after being hospitalized and facing homelessness. He’s been able to get the help he needs at Northern Pines.

“I finally got a roof over my head and it’s something stable, you know,” McDonald said.

He’s been staying at the transitional housing complex for two years.

“It’s my first time trying to quit smoking and I’ve been picking myself up as I go,” McDonald said.

“If you want a good roof over your head, you know, you got to seek help. That's what they're there for.”

The 60-bed housing complex includes 24 units for people who come from the low-barrier shelter and require a high level of support.

Another has 16 units with a shared kitchen for moderate support, and 20 units are geared to individuals needing low levels of support.

“They're working with the housing navigator and that the housing navigator is the stuff that would assist them in finding an apartment that's suitable,” said Crisis Centre executive director Sue Rinneard.

Jamie McDonald, who is on his way to living an independent life after being hospitalized and facing homelessness. He’s been able to get the help he needs at Northern Pines. (Eric Taschner/CTV News)

Work began in February 2020, when former Mayor Al McDonald held a roundtable discussion with stakeholders that found a need for mental health and addiction services, active transitional housing and a shelter.

“Northern Pines not only provides a safe place to live, it also tackles the root causes of homelessness,” said administration board chair Mark King.

“By providing support in a non-judgmental way to people who have experienced trauma, mental illness and/or addictions, compassionate and trained personnel work with residents to achieve incremental goals in their journey towards good health and self-sufficiency.”

Surplus property

A surplus provincial property was purchased by a local developer and converted into transitional housing at the Chippewa site, with $1.2 million in funding from the province.

Temporary funding came during the pandemic for a temporary shelter and Stage 2 and Stage 3 funding saw the completion of the transitional complex.

The facility is meant to complement the low-barrier shelter, where since April 2023 staff estimate nearly 500 clients have stayed.

“We've seen the increase in complexities with the clients that we serve. So definitely there’s the need,” Rinneard said.

“The whole point is it's like home care for mental illness,” said hospital CEO Paul Heinrich.

“So they're out wherever the clients are and this is their touchpoint and when they also do team collaborative activities.”

There was some controversy on the location because it’s across the street from Chippewa Secondary School and adjacent to Barclay House retirement home.

Rinneard said staff have built a good rapport with the school and continue to work together on the issues that do arise.

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“If we don't prevent homelessness, there will be more folks living rough, more folks with addictions that they haven't received assistance,” she said.

The final phase is expected to open this fall. 

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