NEWS

East Vancouver mental health home for youth raising neighbourhood concerns

10/31/2014 09:21 EDT | Updated 12/31/2014 05:59 EST
Residents in Vancouver's Renfrew Heights are raising concerns about the unexpected opening of a new mental health facility for youth in their neighbourhood, after learning about it only a few days ago before its scheduled opening.

"All we got was this postcard, open house, invited to come today from six to seven" said resident Sylvia Lee. "It's very scary."

The home for youth with mental health issues is opening Nov. 1. It will house young people aged 16 to 24.

The home has been acquired by B.C. Housing and turned into a rehabilitation facility. Youth will live in it for three to six months while they put their lives back together.

​At an open house Thursday night, worried residents wondered what criteria B.C. Housing and Coast Mental Health would use to decide who is acceptable to live in their community.

"Are there any young adults you won't accept," asked one worried resident.

Residents were told that any youth who is an active drug user or unwilling to cooperate in his own rehabilitation wouldn't be a candidate for the home. 

Vancouver Kingsway MLA Adrian Dix said this particular area of East Vancouver has always been remarkably open and supportive and blamed the reaction on the lack of notice.

"In this case part of the challenge here is that everyone was informed essentially in the last couple of days that this is happening...and  that it was happening on November 1st without them having been asked," he said. 

"I think what you’re seeing tonight is a lot of questions and a lot of concern that they didn’t bother to talk to the community until they were ready to open."

At the open house residents were told that as many as one in four youth have mental health concerns at some point in their lives and that many of them will wind up homeless so community facilities like this are important.

Dix says he'll be canvassing residents over the next few days to see if their concerns have been addressed.

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