Opposition grows to mens' supportive housing complex

Opposition is growing to a large supportive-housing residence for men in Rutland. 

Freedom House, a faith-based charity, hopes to build a four-storey complex, at McCurdy and Rutland Roads, and has applied for re-zoning. A public hearing will be held on April 25th.

Susan MacLeod, who lives nearby, says there was a lot of opposition to the development at a meeting of residents earlier this month.

"This person said to me 'I can't get businesses to come to Rutland because everywhere you turn there's supportive housing and needle things. Rutland, according to the people living here, feel like we've hit saturation - that Rutland is the dumping ground," she says.

Freedom House says the dilemma for men trying to remain sober is a lack of clean, affordable and supportive housing. The group already houses men in several duplexes that have waiting lists of 30 to 40 men.

The building on McCurdy and Rutland Roads would house up to 50 men - and this, MacLeod says had many neighbourhood women, who attended the residents' meeting April 6th, feeling threatened. 

"A lot of women stood up and said 'please don't this, I beg of you, please don't do this - I'm frightened'. It's just a huge concentration on one corner," says MacLeod.

She also says residents feel the building is too large for the neighbourhood and there are no nearby amenities for the men.

"And another concern for the people in the neighbourhood is they're going to draw people who are friends of theirs, who might have the same kinds of struggles and difficulties, so it might invite rather than solve the problem," says MacLeod.  

Freedom House says men living in the building would need to achieve a minimum 90 days of sobriety.

MacLeod says residents have suggested housing for women, students, or seniors would be more suitable and positive for the site..and for Rutland. 

Freedom House hopes to start construction within the year with the building to be finshed in 2019.