People applaud as

People applaud as

Fresh funding for Chilliwack transitional housing

The newly expanded Ruth & Naomi’s Mission is celebrating its second significant financial boost of the year from the B.C. government.

The newly expanded Ruth & Naomi’s Mission is celebrating its second significant financial boost of the year from the B.C. government.

Chilliwack MLA John Les, and Rich Coleman, minister responsible for housing, arrived in person Tuesday to deliver news of funding in the amount of $175,000, to get the newly built transitional housing part of the building up and running.

The new money will pay for training, counselling and schooling of transitional tenants who will stay in the second floor units at Ruth & Naomi’s, with the goal of being reintegrated back into society over the long-term.

It’s a “good model” they’ve set up, said Coleman at the press conference.

The project has significant “reach” across the Fraser Valley, he said, describing a discussion he had with a mission volunteer who attended at his Easter gathering in Langley.

The minister was quizzed about his own involvement in the project at his own home, and the question came from someone who travels to Chilliwack from Abbotsford to volunteer at the mission.

“That’s the extent of your reach,” he told Ruth & Naomi’s reps.

Ruth & Naomi’s offers emergency shelter beds for up to 20, meals every day for between 120 and 130 people, and plans to offer transitional housing for 25 on the second floor of the new building.

“We felt it was important to come forward and make one more contribution,” Coleman said.

He credited Les for making the case for more funding, and likened his tenacity to a dog with a bone.

“We’re proud to be able to do this.”

The local MLA in turn thanked the minister for having an “open ear.”

Les acknowledged the solid community buy-in the project has enjoyed, from volunteers and service groups, to churches, businesses and construction trade.

“That speaks volumes,” he said noting the rooms upstairs had been outfitted by the Lions and Kiwanis, “and it makes it easy for the government to step up and say, ‘We want to be part of this, too.’”

Strong partnerships from the community contributed to the success of the project, including donated materials and labour during the construction phases, and that didn’t go unnoticed.

The $175,000 in funding from BC Housing will pay the operating expenses for the remainder of 2012, and subsequent funding subsidies for the transitional housing program will be reviewed annually, said board chair Wayne Massey.

“This is a big, big commitment,” he said.

The latest funding boost is in addition to the $387,000 cheque from February which came through to help offset costs related to the environmental remediation of the site. An underground clean-up operation had to be conducted before the new building was constructed to remove contaminated soil underground at the former dry cleaners location.

As a result, the $1-million building project ended up with a $450,000 mortgage. But the funding grants have almost wiped out their debt now.