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North Bay transitional housing project welcomes new residents

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Northern Pines, the innovative transitional housing complex on Chippewa Street in North Bay, welcomed six new residents earlier this week as part of Phase 2 of the project.

Intended as the final step in the transitional housing process, this phase offers minimal supports as people move toward independent living. It has a total of 20 spaces, with the 14 remaining units to be filled in the coming weeks.

“This is actually the culmination of about four years of really difficult work,” said Mark King, chair of the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board (DNSAAB).

Phase 1 of Northern Pines, which opened in 2021, has 16 units, is fully occupied and offers moderate supports.

Phase 3 offers the highest level of supports and stabilizes individuals that have been experiencing chronic homelessness, and provides health, housing and life skills supports.

The 24 units of Phase 3 are expected to open in 2024 and it will be helping people transition from the low-barrier shelter, which is located adjacent to the complex.

“The low-barrier shelter was always going to be used for overflow and I suspect that will happen based on the numbers we’re seeing,” said King.

People can enter Northern Pines at whichever phase is best suited to their current needs. As they move through the different levels of support, vacancies are filled.

Northern Pines, the innovative transitional housing complex on Chippewa Street in North Bay, welcomed six new residents earlier this week as part of Phase 2 of the project.

“It is very exciting to see such a big project move towards completion, with more and more of the district’s most vulnerable people moving out of homelessness into a place that is safe and meets their health and social service needs, where and when they are needed,” King said.

Northern Pines is unique in that it brings together the expertise of the DNSSAB, Crisis Centre North Bay and North Bay Regional Health Centre, with wrap-around services on-site to help break the chronic homelessness cycle.

The complex is described as the “provincial leading edge, integrating Health Quality Standards, based on established scientific methods and best available evidence, with supportive housing best practices and offers well-defined pathways to care, including on-site treatment for mental health and addictions.”

PATHWAYS TO CARE

The nearly $13 million complex is designed to offer what’s called ‘pathways to care’ and is equipped for mental health and addictions treatment. The need for the project was first identified in the mayor’s roundtable on mental health and addictions in 2020.

"We are pleased to be opening these units before the winter sets in," said Sue Rinneard, executive director of Crisis Centre North Bay and Northern Pines operator, in a statement.

“Offering housing with individualized onsite supports allows residents to work towards overcoming trauma and become stable in their housing. We have already seen so many successes in Phase 1, we are excited to see what more opportunities will present themselves for the residents of Northern Pines with this new phase.”

People experiencing chronic homelessness can apply to Northern Pines by calling 705-474-2151 ext. 45589 or by emailing HousingAccess@dnssab.ca.

There are three distinct, secure living quarters within Northern Pines, designed to accommodate a total of 60 people according to the level of support and care required. People can progress from high to low supports, and then through the community housing continuum.

“I know it's the answer,” King said.

“We started with the low-barrier shelter and we had nothing in this city to deal with this situation."

More information on Northern Pines can be found on the DNSSAB website.

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