Councillor calling for Living Recovery Foundation to be shut down following homicides

A city councillor in Winnipeg is calling for a landlord in the city to be shutdown after at least four homicides were recorded inside of their buildings in the last 12 months. @_MorganModjeski reports.

By Morgan Modjeski

A Winnipeg city councillor is calling for a low-barrier rental organization to be shuttered after four homicides took place at its buildings in the last 12 months.

“What we’re seeing right now is a huge concern. We have to take this seriously,” said Daniel McIntrye Ward, Cindy Gilroy.

She’s now calling for the provincial government to step in and shut down Living Recovery Foundation Winnipeg, saying the operator is taking advantage of vulnerable people, and letting their several rental buildings fall into a state of dangerous disrepair.

“It’s an unsafe place for residents to live and unsafe for the neighbouring community, so we just really need to shut it down,” she said.

With many of its clients on Employment and Income Assistance, Living Recovery Foundation claims to offer low-barrier housing to people in need with, as one ad explains, “on-site caretakers” that coordinate and are in close communication with both the residents and their social workers, but Gilroy says much more needs to be done.

A Winnipeg Police Service cruiser can be seen outside of the Adanac Apartments in the 700 block of Sargent Avenue as police investigate an alleged homicide at the building on Jan. 3, 2022. (Photo Credit: Morgan Modjeski)

“Having caretakers on-site isn’t having mental health and addiction professionals,” she said. “That’s what’s needed to happen here and our government needs to step in to make sure that’s happening.”

Buildings owned by Living Recovery have been the sites of at least four homicides in the last 12 months.

The people who died included Heather Beardy, 26, who was found deceased at 485 Furby St., Daniel Michael George Cook who died after an alleged shooting at 583 Furby St.

Ira Hayes Disbrowe, 26, who was shot at the Adanac Apartments in the 700 block of Sargent Avenue and died later in a hospital. And just this week Star Alicia Thomas, 23, whose death is now being investigated following an apartment fire at the Adanac.

All of the buildings are located in councillor Gilroy’s ward Daniel McIntyre and the councillor says there’s been little cooperation from Living Recovery to address concerns that have been raised.

“What’s at stake is lives,” said Gilroy.

“We really need to look at what’s going on in the buildings when you see multiple murders and if we don’t stop and really take a look, then we’re part of that as well.”

The city councillor says governments need to step in to ensure adequate living conditions for those in need, without displacing those who call the units home.

Police tape and a police officer can be seen outside of a suite in the Adanac Apartments in the 700 block of Sargent Avenue as police investigate an alleged homicide at the building on Jan. 3, 2022. (Photo Credit: Morgan Modjeski)

Landlord claims advocacy groups ‘ghost’ clients

Founding Director of Living Recovery Karin Harper Penner declined interview requests from CityNews, but provided a written response. She says her agency tries to help those dealing with addictions, trauma and homelessness in the city.

“We accept them where they are in their addictions, in their struggles and until we housed them they are homeless without much hope of getting housing,” she said in the statement.

Harper Penner claims the Living Recovery Foundation is itself a victim of Winnipeg’s housing crisis. She says housing advocacy groups take advantage of the organisation, abandoning their clients once housed, saying it can go weeks, even months, without rent.

She says it’s tenants’ actions like dealing drugs or damaging property that causes issues and creates unsafe environments -– and Living Recovery is left to clean up the mess.

“All advocate agencies are not necessarily competent, they are very cooperative while trying to get a participant housed and then they are ghosts after the participant is housed. They promise wrap-around support and then disappear for various reasons. This is our reality,” she claimed.

Harper Penner said the situation was made even worse when support workers stopped coming into the buildings during COVID-19. She says the buildings are constantly being repaired, it’s impossible to keep up.

“There is a homeless crisis in our city and LRFW is housing people that are not living their best lives and need to be housed regardless of their addiction.”

Stay tuned for more coverage of Living Recovery and its operations in Winnipeg.

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