A movie that shines a highlight on the opioid and homelessness crises in Ontario demonstrates the necessity behind a recent London housing project.
John Butler’s documentary, SAFE, features tenants who live in buildings run by housing operator Indwell. It shares their stories of homelessness and the hope that comes with supportive, everlasting, reasonably priced housing.
Indwell opened its newest location in London on Feb. 28, a 72-unit geared-to-income development called Embassy Commons in Old East Village. Several residents of London and the encompassing region, including support employees, appear within the film.
Butler said the documentary was an eye-opener for him personally, because it highlighted how “tightly wrapped” the opioid crisis and the reasonably priced housing crisis are.
“I didn’t realize how deeply tied the reasonably priced housing crisis and the opioid crisis are. I used to be under the impression that some people just find yourself on drugs, and a few people make bad decisions,” he told CBC.
“But for many of them, the explanation that they are addicted is due to a crisis that happened of their life that was beyond their control, after which it drove them to change into unhoused because they couldn’t afford to maintain up their habit that they’d developed.
“So, then you could have someone who’s unhoused, and it’s almost inconceivable to beat addiction if you’re unhoused,” Butler added.
A free screening of the documentary will likely be held at 7 p.m. on Monday on the Hyland Cinema in London.
Butler says he hopes the film will drive home the purpose that individuals should be housed in order that they’ll have support and make changes of their lives.
“I just hope that individuals will talk in regards to the issues with housing more … What I would like people to take home from the film is that the reasonably priced housing crisis affects quite a bit greater than your sphere, you already know, quite a bit greater than your circle of influence,” he said. “That is value listening to and talking about.”
Opioids killed more people in Ontario within the second yr of the pandemic in comparison with the primary, and there was a dramatic jump in deaths each years in comparison with pre-pandemic, in response to data from Ontario’s Office of the Chief Coroner.
About eight people per day died from opioids within the second yr of the pandemic.
From April 2021 to March 2022, 2,795 opioid-related deaths were recorded, up barely from 2,727 in the primary yr of the pandemic, the coroner’s office reports. Those were each large leaps from 2019, when opioids killed 1,559 Ontarians — about 4 people per day.
In late February, Niagara Region declared a state of emergency in response to the homelessness, mental health and opioid crisis in the world.
The human side of homelessness
Butler says filming for the documentary was done in August 2021 with residents at various Indwell locations across southern Ontario — including Woodstock, London , Simcoe, Hamilton and Mississauga.
Julie Ryan, community engagement coordinator and fundraiser with Indwell, and a tenant in the brand new Embassy Commons complex, says the film shows how supportive housing may also help tackle drug addictions and homelessness together.
Ryan says housing gives people a base from which to heal their lives.
” It’s pretty hard to take care of addictions if you’re living under a tarp. It’s pretty hard to do anything except to survive. So once you’ll be able to feel secure, you’ll be able to lock the door, you’ll be able to be in your personal space, you’ll be able to turn your mind to the opposite goals that you could have in your life. For a lot of tenants which means reuniting with members of the family, finding volunteer work. working on their addictions,” Ryan told CBC.
Screenings of the documentary may even be held in Kitchener and other locations.