Salvation Army spokesman Tim Bohr at city hall in March presenting plan for a modular shelter to open in Chilliwack by October or November of 2017. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

Modular shelter on track to open this fall in Chilliwack

Shelter will have double-bunk pods to get 50 or 60 people off the streets

It will get dozens of people off the streets in Chilliwack.

A temporary modular shelter to house the homeless is on track to open this fall.

Plans are moving ahead by Salvation Army of Chilliwack to open a new “low-barrier” facility at the Yale Road location to house 50 to 60 people.

The interim shelter will be a stop-gap measure until a larger, more permanent shelter with transitional housing spaces can be built in 2018, in partnership with BC Housing. The larger shelter is expected to cost about $6.8 million and has yet to be formally approved.

“We are still anticipating the modular shelter to open this fall, in time for the winter season,” said Tim Bohr, director of community ministries for Salvation Army.

The modular shelter will replace the existing 30-bed emergency shelter operating from the soup kitchen space since last October with the help of BC Housing.

“We are very excited about this modular development and how it will increase our capacity,” said Bohr.

The interim option is going ahead “because the need is so high,” noted Bohr, when the project was first discussed at city hall about six months ago. The plan is to keep the soup kitchen space in reserve to be made available in the case of extreme winter weather events.

The new modular unit will be built off-site and assembled on-site.

The larger shelter at the Sally Ann site, which could be built by 2018, is expected to be a Housing First project, geared to getting people off the streets as quickly as possible, and then getting them any help they may need.

“Housing First is a proven approach across North America for ending chronic homelessness,” according to the staff report that accompanied the shelter MOU agreement signed last March, “involving the provision of immediate housing without requiring psychiatric treatment or sobriety as determinants of ‘housing readiness.’”

There will be second-stage housing, in addition to the existing Care and Share services by Salvation Army like the soup kitchen and food bank.

City of Chilliwack set side $700,000 in its funding reserves to be used in this exact way, as “leverage” to secure provincial funding for a major Housing First project, and it will be the city’s one-time contribution.

Sally Ann reps are looking to redevelop on an expanded footprint, since purchasing adjoining properties on the Yale Road site. The expanded shelter will one day have 40 emergency shelter spaces with a minimum of 10 being low-barrier beds, and 30 second-stage/transitional housing units.

The new shelter spaces being planned, will add to the existing affordable housing continuum in the next couple of years, with Ruth &Naomi’s new family centre, and the new affordable housing project, Urban Village.


 

@chwkjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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Salvation Army spokesman Tim Bohr at city hall in March presenting plan for a modular shelter to open in Chilliwack by October or November of 2017. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

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