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Report Analyses City Housing and Accommodation Needs

August 13, 2013 – A new report recommends 19 actions that can be taken in Thunder Bay to improve access to housing for people with substance use issues.

“Too often, people with chronic substance use issues are unable to find safe and affordable housing and have to resort to temporary shelter solutions,” said Cynthia Olsen, Coordinator – Thunder Bay Drug Strategy. “There is a critical shortage of housing in our community. It’s not uncommon for people with substance use issues to find themselves in the emergency room or the city jail, when Housing First options with appropriate supports would better meet their needs.

“This report is a comprehensive roadmap to providing proper accommodation and support for a very vulnerable segment of Thunder Bay’s population.”

The assessment includes 19 recommendations – 10 of those are listed as short-term priority actions – which, once implemented, will see more people with substance use issues accessing the accommodation and support they need.

For example, the report calls for the expansion of existing shelter programming, an enhancement of residential rehabilitation services, and an increase in availability of transitional housing in Thunder Bay.

The report also recommends maintenance and enhancement of appropriate services for special populations, the creation of a long-term Housing First program in Thunder Bay, and the development of ongoing supports for people who are re-entering the workforce or enrolling in school after being treated for substance use issues.

The assessment was funded by the City of Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, St. Joseph’s Care Group, Thunder Bay District Social Services Administration Board and Fort William First Nation.

Research was done by the Centre for Community Based Research in partnership with Confederation College, and involved 143 individual interviews with people with lived experience of substance use, focus groups, online agency surveys, a literature review and two community planning sessions.

To view the complete report, visit

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Contact: Cynthia Olsen, Coordinator – Thunder Bay Drug Strategy, 625-2942