The Government of B.C., the City of Kelowna and Canadian Mental Health Association Kelowna are working in partnership to build close to 40 new urgently needed supportive homes for people experiencing homelessness in Kelowna.
“The need for safe and secure housing has never been clearer, and these new homes will give more people a place to call their own,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We are working quickly and urgently with our partners to protect all British Columbians during the COVID-19 crisis, including our province’s most vulnerable – because when people have housing, it’s good for everyone in the community.”
Located at 1055 and 1063 Ellis St., the three-storey modular apartment building will include 38 self-contained studio units with private washrooms, showers and kitchens. The building will also include a commercial kitchen, dining and lounge areas, storage and amenity space, laundry and a medical room.
To help people move from the streets and shelters into this safe and secure housing, the city and the Province are working together to expedite the building process and removing the requirement of municipal rezoning. The current lease is for 10 years, and the property will go through the municipal rezoning process if the lease is extended beyond that.
“Homelessness is an evolving, dynamic crisis in our community, and these kinds of partnerships go a long way towards creating solutions,” said Colin Basran, mayor, City of Kelowna. “This is a strategic land investment that will not only create much needed solutions in the short term, but also has long-term potential with a future land use designation for multi-storey residential housing. In addition to being close to downtown, this property is ideally located adjacent to existing municipal park space and could fulfil many different civic objectives after expiry of the lease.”
BC Housing supports the city in its commitment to the Journey Home Strategy, focusing on ending chronic and episodic homelessness, introducing measures to prevent homelessness in the first place and implementing a co-ordinated systems approach to homelessness.
“To provide people with the support and services they need to begin their recovery journey, they first need a place to call home,” said Stephanie Ball, executive director, Central Okanagan Journey Home Society. “This is a welcome addition to the over 100 units of housing with supports already planned to come on stream over the next two years as we work to meet the goals of Kelowna’s five-year plan to address homelessness.”
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Kelowna will operate the new housing. It will provide residents with 24/7 on-site staff and support services, including meal programs, life and employment skills training, health and wellness support services and opportunities for volunteer work.
“Access to safe and stable housing is a crucial first step needed for anyone who experiences homelessness so they can begin to get their feet back under them,” says Shelagh Turner, executive director, CMHA Kelowna. “We are proud to be the operators of this building and our other supportive housing in Kelowna so we can be there to help end the cycle of homelessness.”
Site preparation work will start in June, with construction expected to be complete in fall 2020.
- The Province will provide $9.5 million to the project through the Supportive Housing Fund, as well as an annual operating subsidy of $1.3 million.
- In addition to these homes, the Province has worked with partners to open 136 supportive homes for people experiencing homelessness in Kelowna over the last two years. This includes 50 homes at Samuel Place, 40 at Heath House and 46 at Hearthstone. An additional 138 supportive homes are currently underway.
- More than 2,700 spaces in hotels, motels and community centres across B.C. have been secured to help vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Kelowna, BC Housing has secured 80 spaces to date for vulnerable people in the community.
Community members can learn more about this project and ask questions at: https://letstalkhousingbc.ca/kelowna-ellis
For more information on how BC Housing is supporting British Columbians during the COVID-19 outbreak, visit: https://www.bchousing.org/COVID-19/
A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C. is available online: https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC
To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit: https://workingforyou.gov.bc.ca/
Two backgrounders follow.