New housing for homeless in the Okanagan

Vernon’s Howard House expanding with 45-bed shelter plus a 53-unit supportive housing project announced

  • Nov. 15, 2017 1:30 p.m.

People who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Vernon will soon have access to supportive housing thanks to a partnership between the province of B.C. and the City of Vernon to develop two new modular-housing projects in the community.

“We know there’s an urgent need to address homelessness in Vernon and communities throughout British Columbia,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “These modular projects will make an incredible difference in the lives of vulnerable people in the city who are struggling to find and maintain stable housing.”

The B.C. government is allocating approximately $11 million toward the two projects, which will be operated by the John Howard Society of the North Okanagan.

A new, permanent modular-housing project will be located on land owned by BC Housing at 27th Avenue and 35th Street, which will provide 53 supportive housing units for people transitioning out of homelessness. These will be self-contained units with personal kitchens and washrooms.

This is part of the province’s commitment to build 2,000 modular units throughout B.C. over two years, working in partnership with local governments who are interested in modular housing in their communities.

“With these new units, 98 people in Vernon will have safe, warm shelter and supports,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Getting housing and support services to help people stabilize on the ground in communities is critical. I want to thank our community partners for coming forward and working with us to get this project underway. These units will make a real difference for people in Vernon.”

A new permanent modular shelter with approximately 45 beds will also be constructed at 2307 43rd Street to expand capacity of the current homeless shelter and transitional housing development at Howard House.

“We’re pleased to see the province step up to address homelessness with support to deliver these modular housing units in Vernon,” said Akbal Mund, mayor of Vernon. “We applaud the Province’s efforts to create more safe and secure housing options that support some of Vernon’s most vulnerable citizens.”

Vernon follows Vancouver as the second B.C. community to include modular housing as part of a solution to help address homelessness.

“The announcement of modular housing projects in Vernon is a significant milestone for us,” said Kelly Fehr and Randene Wejr, co-executive directors of the John Howard Society of the North Okanagan. “We’re pleased to be partnering with the Province to provide supportive housing to those in need.”

The province continues to work with a number of communities across B.C. to determine locations for additional modular housing. Announcement in Terrace and Prince Rupert were also made Wednesday.

The B.C. government is allocating $170 million over three years to ensure all the new modular-housing buildings in the province have 24/7 staffing.

Experienced non-profit housing providers will be selected to operate the modular buildings.

Tenants will be provided with support based on their assessed need.

Some examples of services and supports include:

  • Meals;
  • Connecting residents to community supports, such as education and employment opportunities and health and wellness services;
  • Individual or group support services, such as life skills, community information, and social and recreational programs;
  • Case planning and needs assessment;
  • Other supports designed to assist residents in meeting their personal and housing goals, including culturally-specific programs;
  • Assistance to access income assistance, pension benefits, disability benefits, obtaining a B.C. identification card or establishing a bank account;
  • Support for residents to maintain their home, such as room decluttering, rent payment, and repayment plans; and
  • No-cost laundry services, either on-site or off-site.

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