About 75 people turned out to a virtual meeting about the supportive housing LOFT has planned for Church Street. The discussion was spirited.
LOFT has renovated five homes owned by the Humber River Hospital, and will be using them as transitional housing for 15 people recovering from mental illness. Residents will receive programming and will stay for about six months.
I think it is safe to say LOFT’s roll-out was poor: neighbours were given short notice to attend an outdoors information session (not consultation). Feedback was not solicited online, and they said at the time that “no further in-person meetings [were] planned”.
LOFT certainly heard about their poor community consultation last night. Several attendees said in direct terms that LOFT had done a bad job.
I think there were five other themes to the other comments:
- The community should (or does) support this
- The density of supportive housing is too high
- More needed to be done about security
- The zoning is unclear
- That more needed to be done about ongoing community feedback
Personally, I was pleased to see that LOFT did host a second meeting. They appear to be willing to make some changes, and, indeed, announced some, including more staffing and a leisure space for residents.
I was, however, surprised that some of the suggestions hadn’t already been considered. I’m no expert, but it seems to me that LOFT should have:
- Ongoing evaluation of the effects, if any, on the community and a willingness to change plans if the effects are deleterious
- Regular community liaising with neighbours and the neighbourhood.
- An outreach program explaining the work they do and the benefits they will bring
These efforts should be public and transparent.
In the to-and-fro of an online meeting, it’s hard to find out whether these efforts are in place, but I don’t think they are.