The Supported Independent Living Resource Centre is usually bustling with activity from Winnipeggers. You can find adults of all backgrounds coming together at 514 St. Mary Avenue to play games, sit and talk, eat, use computers, connect with Community Resource Workers, and access a variety of resources.
New Directions’ Supported Independent Living services helps and supports adults who want to live independently but need some extra support. Through referrals and funding, these folks can choose to live at one of our apartment complexes, duplexes, or out in the community. People who access these services come to our building at St. Mary Avenue, a space dedicated solely to these services, the people who use them, and their staff.
Supported Independent Living services are crucial in addressing chronic homelessness, substance use, and mental health issues in Winnipeg. We work from a harm-reduction care model, meaning that we meet people where they’re at and help them make safer choices.
Individuals are referred and funded by:
- Community Living disABILITY Services (CLDS)
- PASS Provincial Alternative Support Services
- Child and Family Services
Supported Independent Living leases 4 apartment complexes, 1 four-plex, and 2 tri-plexes, providing a safe home for 50+ individuals. Additionally, about 150+ people do not use our housing but chose to live independently in their own apartment, staying in shelters, or stay with friends. New Directions’ supports each person no matter what, allowing and honouring their individual choices for how they want to live.
For people who do choose to live in the community, in a potentially less stable way, like on the streets or in shelters, we talk with them to figure out the reasons why they prefer this. In some cases, it’s because they have a fear of being alone, and in that case, we can provide more support in their independent living situation or refer them to additional resources.
Each person who uses these services has a Case Manager and Community Resource Workers who work to create an individualized support plan to help them make decisions and reach their goals. Our staff does this by communicating often with the individual in the community, at their residence, and at the Resource Centre, formally known as the Lounge.
This space has a psych nurse, medical room, needle exchange program, laundry services, work experience program, couches, games, computers, food bank, light meal program, and access to community resource workers. We also try to provide regular events and activities for the people we serve to strengthen community and foster relationships.
When dealing with the at times unpredictable and vulnerable nature of this group, safety is our top concern. We have rules, protocols, and boundaries in place to protect both our staff and the people we serve.
While we do accept and support people who use substances, we always prioritize safety and analyze each incident on a case-by-case situation. If someone is behaving violently or has a weapon, they are not allowed in the Resource Centre that day. In our apartments, an individual can be evicted if they have a weapon or have guests who are dangerous and pose a risk to other tenants or staff. Eviction is facilitated by the Housing Coordinator who overseeing the apartment building.
In both cases, we do not turn our backs on these people. They can still access our services and can move back in or come back to the Resource Centre once their behaviour improves.
The important thing to know about Supported Independent Living? That we support these individuals no matter what, we provide them with the tools they need to make safer choices, and we respect them in meaningful ways, something they often don’t get from others in the community.
Consider donating to Supported Independent Living to help raise money for more space, furniture, and supplies.