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Updated: 31st December 2018 06:26

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Calgary non-profit says system fails Alberta's mentally ill

A Calgary non-profit group wants the provincial government to do more to get mentally ill people off Alberta streets.

The Calgary Drop-In says more than half of the people who go there are mentally ill

A Calgary non-profit group says the provincial government is failing Alberta's mentally ill. 3:33

A Calgary non-profit group wants the provincial government to do more to get mentally ill people off Alberta streets.

Debbie Newman, the executive director of the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre, says the system has failed people with psychiatric conditions.

Newman says more than half of her clients are mentally ill.

And even though the centre is a temporary shelter, most mentally ill people who stay there continue to come back.

"They live with us until the day they die. Unless someone decides to come up with better solution and house them in institutions or in a different setting where there is 24-hour care," Newman said.

"Individuals are taken away, seen by psychiatrists but don't seem to get past that start line and end up coming back to the shelter system."

Arnold Daniels lives at the Drop-In Centre, but had his own apartment at Potential Place for eight years.

The building is owned by a Calgary mental health organization and offers subsidized housing for people with psychiatric conditions. It recently announced it will be terminating the subsidy, jeopardizing housing for some people who live there.

In August, management asked Daniels to clean the carpet in his suite. He ended up flooding it, and was evicted.

The Canadian Mental Health Association says it's difficult for psychiatric patients to maintain jobs and housing, like everybody else.

"There are times when people will be less well. During those times things like paying bills, self-care, motivation are going to be more challenging," said Ruby Lecot.

Lecot says those times can often end with an eviction notice because of a lack of understanding in the community. 

Adding to the situation she says is Calgary's low vacancy rate. 

Lecot says there is always a lineup of people waiting for affordable housing, people who may not have the same challenges as the mentally ill.  

 

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