More homes, shelter spaces for people experiencing homelessness in Kelowna


December 3, 2019

KELOWNA – Forty people who have been accepted into under-construction supportive housing will soon be moving into temporary bridge housing, making way for more people experiencing homelessness to access shelter spaces.

The City of Kelowna has identified the site for a 40-unit temporary housing project that will be funded by the Province and operated by the John Howard Society of Okanagan & Kootenay.

“Everyone deserves a safe, secure place to call home. This project will create space for more people to come inside off the streets as we work to build urgently needed permanent supportive housing in Kelowna,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “I want to thank the city, the John Howard Society and everyone who has worked with us to provide these homes.”

The new temporary housing is located at 555 Fuller Ave. It will serve as bridge housing for people who are currently staying in shelters and have been accepted into the new supportive housing opening at 280 McIntosh Rd. in spring 2020.

“We are pleased the Province and BC Housing are working with us to find solutions to homelessness,” said Colin Basran, mayor, City of Kelowna. “This temporary solution will free up much-needed shelter space for those currently sheltering outside during the winter months.”

The temporary housing is set to open in mid-December following renovations of the existing building and will close on March 31, 2020. The John Howard Society of Okanagan & Kootenay will provide residents with beds, meals, washrooms and amenity space. At least two staff members will be on site around the clock. The society will provide information about the project and contact details for neighbours and community members who may have questions or concerns. The society also operates 125 units of supportive housing and 80 shelter spaces in Kelowna.

“We are excited to open new supportive housing at 280 McIntosh Rd., scheduled for the spring of 2020,” said Dawn Himer, executive director, John Howard Society of Okanagan & Kootenay. “And now that we’re opening a temporary housing option at 555 Fuller Ave., we can offer more opportunities for individuals seeking support this winter.”

BC Housing continues to work with the City of Kelowna as it decides on a location for another temporary winter shelter space in the community.

“The society is very glad to see this form of housing moving forward,” said Kyleen Myrah, board chair, Central Okanagan Journey Home Society. “The Journey Home Strategy calls for diverse forms of housing, and this housing at 555 Fuller Ave. to bridge people from the shelter system into housing with supports is an example of that needed diversity of options. While we acknowledge this accomplishment, we recognize there is still work to be done and we will continue to work with our partners on the short-, medium- and long-term solutions to address homelessness in our community.”

Delivering affordable housing is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Quick Facts:

  • BC Housing funds three permanent shelters in Kelowna, providing a combined 160 shelter spaces to people experiencing homelessness in the community.
  • In addition to shelters, there are three provincially funded supportive housing projects in development in the Kelowna area that will provide more than 150 units for people experiencing homelessness. Two of the projects are expected to open in spring 2020, while the third will be ready in 2021.
  • BC Housing currently provides rent subsidies for 184 people or households who were experiencing homelessness, enabling them to live and rent in the private market.
  • The Province, through BC Housing, has opened close to 2,100 units of supportive housing, with over 800 more underway. These developments are part of the Province's commitment to build 4,700 units of supportive housing over 10 years.

Learn More:

To see a map of permanent and temporary shelters in B.C., visit: http://www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/homelessness-services/emergency-shelter-map

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.

Contacts:

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
778 584-2433

BC Housing
media@bchousing.org

BACKGROUNDER 1

Services, supports provided for supportive housing

All new supportive housing buildings in the province have around-the-clock staffing to help young people, people with disabilities, seniors and others in critical need of housing.

The Province is providing annual operating funding to help those with the highest housing needs to build new beginnings. Experienced staff provide support to tenants based on their assessed needs.

Services and supports provided to young people, seniors, people with disabilities and others who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, include:

  • both on-site supports and connection to additional specialized supports in their community;
  • supports that are tailored to the needs of the residents, including education and employment opportunities, and health and wellness services, including mental health and addiction treatment programs;
  • individual or group support services, such as life skills, community information and social and recreational programs;
  • meals;
  • case planning and needs assessment;
  • other supports designed to assist residents in meeting their personal and housing goals, including culturally specific programs;
  • help accessing income assistance, pension benefits, disability benefits, obtaining a B.C. identification card or establishing a bank account;
  • support for residents to learn how to operate and maintain a home; and
  • no-cost laundry services, either on or off site.

Media Contacts:

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
778 584-2433

BC Housing
media@bchousing.org

BACKGROUNDER 2

Province building new homes to meet full spectrum of housing needs

The B.C. government is working in partnership to build 114,000 affordable homes that cover the full spectrum of housing needs for British Columbians by 2028.

Budget 2018 included a $7-billion investment in the homes people need. As a result of that investment, more than 22,000 new homes are completed, under construction or in the approvals process for a range of people who are struggling to find a place to live, from people who are experiencing homelessness and seniors on fixed incomes, to middle-income families, students and individuals. As of Aug. 31, 2019, this includes:

Housing for middle-income earners (households with annual incomes between $50,000 and $150,000) – approximately 4,120 homes:

  • Building BC: Community Housing Fund: approximately 1,500 rental homes for people with middle incomes.
  • HousingHub: approximately 2,620 homes.

Housing for people with low to moderate incomes (including some where rents are based on 30% of household income and others with set rents, which are designed to be affordable; to moderate-income households, in most cases earning less than $70,000 annually) – approximately 9,320 homes:

  • Building BC: Community Housing Fund: approximately 3,700 rental homes for people with low to moderate incomes.
  • Affordable Rental Housing Program: nearly 1,600 homes for low to moderate incomes.
  • Deepening Affordability Fund: more than 2,150 homes for low to moderate incomes.
  • Building BC: Indigenous Housing Fund: approximately 1,170 homes for Indigenous peoples, on- and off-reserve.
  • Regional Housing First Program: approximately 700 homes for people with low to moderate incomes.

Housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness (shelter-rate housing) – approximately 3,060 homes:

  • Rapid Response to Homelessness: 2,064 homes with 24/7 support.
  • Building BC: Supportive Housing Fund: approximately 800 homes with 24/7 support.
  • Regional Housing First Program: approximately 200 homes for those ready to live independently with supports.

Housing for women and children leaving violence – approximately 360 homes:

  • Building BC: Women’s Transition Housing Fund: approximately 360 spaces of transition, second-stage and affordable rental housing for women and children leaving violence.

Housing for students – approximately 5,600 homes:

  • BC Student Housing Loan Program: approximately 2,700 on-campus student housing units are underway or in the approvals process.
  • Nearly 2,900 student housing units are also underway or in development through partnerships with post-secondary institutions.

Total: approximately 22,460 homes

Media Contacts:

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
778 584-2433

BC Housing
media@bchousing.org