BC Housing opened a 62-unit housing project for Penticton residents experiencing or at risk of homelessness on Thursday.
The project, called Burdock House at 594 Winnipeg St., is a newly-completed four-storey modular building featuring 62 studio units, including four accessible units.
Each of the units includes a private washroom and mini kitchen. The building also includes communal space for counselling and community meetings, a multi-purpose room, commercial kitchen and dining room, as well as outdoor amenities including a gazebo, bike and cart storage, and a pet-friendly running area.
“These new permanent homes with wraparound supports will help people heal from the experience of being homeless and give them a stable foundation on which to build a better life,” Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing said in a release.
“Our government is proud to work with partners to provide people experiencing homelessness with the opportunity to move off the streets and into safe and secure homes.”
ASK Wellness Society, an experienced non-profit housing operator, will operate Burdock House, and provide residents with 24/7 on-site staff and support services. These include meal programs, life and employment skills training, health and wellness support services and opportunities for volunteer work.
“Burdock residents will be challenged and encouraged to make the most of this commitment by the province of British Columbia,” said Bob Hughes, executive director with ASK Wellness Society, at the opening. “Some will not make this journey. We know this having operated hundreds and hundreds of supportive housing units across three communities. Our rules and expectations can be difficult for some, but they boil down to two simple things: pay your rent and be nice.
Hughes added that drug dealing, theft and violence will not be tolerated.
“They are now part of this neighbourhood and their actions within the building and in the neighbourhood is what counts,” he said. “With housing comes health and with health comes hope, with hope comes dreams and with dreams comes life. Welcome home everyone.”
Mayor John Vassilaki told Black Press Media he discussed the need for more affordable housing with Robinson at the 2019 UBCM Convention last month in Vancouver.
“Not only housing for homeless people, because God knows we need lots of that here, but also affordable housing for families with young children,” Vassilaki said. “She was very supportive of the information that we gave her, she’s going to look into it very seriously and see what her government can come up with, and we’ll be getting back together.”
He said he was going to ask his staff to organize either a trip to Victoria, or to bring the minister to Penticton.
“The only real thing to do with a government is to fly over to Victoria,” he said. “We need more than 15 minutes with the minister, we need hours to sit there and discuss matters.”
Penticton’s own Metric Modular was selected by the province to manufacture the modular units for Burdock House and several other modular projects in B.C.
The name Burdock House was chosen by ASK Wellness Society to represent the native plant that grows in the area.
Residents experiencing homelessness in the Penticton area started moving in at the end of September and the building will be fully occupied later this month. ASK Wellness Society confirmed that people had to fill out an application to be considered for one of the units and there is a waitlist.
BC Housing was busy making announcements about several housing projects throughout the week, including Burdock House as well as another affordable housing project opening later on Thursday afternoon. In Okanagan Falls, 26 new affordable rental homes for seniors were opened at South Skaha Place, located at 5081 8th Ave.
Robinson also announced a housing project in Oliver on Friday. The M’akola Housing Society is receiving approximately $4.6 million from the Province’s Building BC: Community Housing Fund to build 46 homes at 5931 Airport Rd.
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