‘It’s shocking’ Mother of violence victim joins calls to shutter Winnipeg landlord

Saying something must be done before more are hurt, the mother of a woman who died violently inside of a Living Recovery Foundation of Winnipeg building is joining the growing number of people calling for the landlord to be shut down.

By Morgan Modjeski

More voices are joining the growing choir of people calling to shutter a low-barrier housing provider in Winnipeg they worry is putting people at risk.

A Winnipeg mother, whose daughter died in a Living Recovery Foundation of Winnipeg says she wants to see the landlord investigated and shut down before more people are hurt.

“It’s heartbreaking, I mean it will affect me for the rest of my life,” said Brenda Normand, whose daughter died at a Living Recovery Foundation building in May of 2021.

She found her daughter’s body after the landlord sent her an email about a disturbance at her Maryland Street apartment, at which time she called 911.

Jasmine ‘Jassy’ Normand, was killed in an altercation in May 2021 at a Living Recovery Foundation of Winnipeg Building and her mother believes conditions at the building contributed to her daughter’s violent death.

Over the last 12 months, at least five other people have died as a result of homicides in Living Recovery Foundation buildings and Normand says it saddens her that more people have died inside the organization’s building.

“It’s kind of shocking that this type of stuff is going on and is still going on,” she said. “We need to see an end to these places presenting themselves as some type of a recovery house, when in fact, they’re not.”

Normand believes her daughter would still be her today if it were not for the conditions and environment that existed at the Living Recovery building, saying the fact the organization continues to claim it’s helping people is wrong.

RELATED: Winnipeg woman charged with manslaughter in May 2021 death of Jasmine Normand

“I think it’s awful and I don’t know why they aren’t shut down. I don’t know why this would be allowed to go on for so long,” she said.

Brenda Normand speaks with CityNews outside of the Maryland Street apartment where her daughter was killed in May 2021.

In 2022, the Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Service reported, four Living Recovery Foundation Buildings were the source of 475 total calls for service, including 90 for overdoses and 106 for fires.

Living Recovery’s founding director Karin Harper Penner continues to decline interview requests from CityNews but has denied allegations the buildings are unsafe and says they are regularly inspected and maintained.

She says her organization is housing people other landlords will not, and issues at the buildings are caused by tenants and the agencies who abandon them.

“The city and province have a fentanyl crisis, I believe people are dying all over the city from overdoses, it is not at all exclusive to our buildings,” she said in response to a question about overdose numbers.

“To my knowledge, we have not had a Resident overdose for many months. We are housing, I cannot control what substances people are using. We don’t create drug addicts, we house them.”

Lisa Naylor, MLA for Wolseley, says the NDP raised concerns about Living Recovery to government back in 2020.

Wolseley MLA, Lisa Naylor says she raised concerns to the government about Living Recovery Foundation in 2020 following a meeting with the landlord, as she said there were concerns it was not functioning as it advertised, saying they were worried this type of situation may be created.

“They use language like harm reduction. Second stage recovery. But it was very clear in our meetings that these folks had no knowledge about addictions. No knowledge about treatment. That there were no professionals onsite to help people and the so-called Living Recovery Foundation is to hide the fact that these are just slum landlords who are taking advantage of the system.”

She says Living Recovery needs to go under the microscope as soon as possible.

“The government has to step in,” she said. “The misuse of provincial funds, and taxpayers funds and the misrepresentation by these organizations requires a deep investigation by the government.”

Interview requests were declined, but in a statement, the Government of Manitoba says while EIA funding supports tenants in Living Recovery Foundation buildings, the province does not investigate landlords or get involved in their clients’ accommodation choices.

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