Paul de Koning (left) and Wayne Massey stand in the commercial grade kitchen at the new Ruth and Naomi's building.

More funding needed to realize Chilliwack housing dream

Ruth & Naomi’s reps say they're short an estimated $400,000 to finish the upstairs section of the new building.

Construction on the new Ruth & Naomi’s Mission building in downtown Chilliwack is a few weeks away from completion.

The $1-million project is an expansion of the services offered by the mission, with the plan to offer transitional housing spaces for up to 24 residents.

About 100 to 130 street people arrive at Ruth & Naomi’s Mission on Fletcher Street every day to be fed. That’s down from the maximum of 150 per day they were feeding a while back, but officials are eager to get on with the long-awaited housing component.

About half the Ruth & Naomi’s project value has come from donated materials and labour to date by 80 members of the Chilliwack construction trade, said Paul de Koning, a project manager and board director.

But it is now clear they are going to be short an estimated $400,000 to finish the upstairs section of the new building.

The shortfall means they will need to raise more operational funding, including an estimated $15,000 per unit in the eight-room section, either from government funding or donations, as well as $150,000 to furnish the now-empty units and computer room.

“We have not approached the province for any funding at this point, but the board sees that is going to be necessary,” said board chair Wayne Massey.

They have to furnish and staff the transitional housing component they’ve been promising.

A commercial-grade kitchen, spacious dining hall and washroom facilities are now in place on the main floor of the new building, as are the residential units upstairs in the 8000-square foot building.

Project proponents thought initially they were going to be able to finish the downstairs portion first and get their occupancy permit right away. But city officials notified them that the upper portion would have to be completed, staffed and operational as well before the permit would be issued.

“We misunderstood and thought we could separate the components,” he noted.

Part of the current financial crunch was caused by “moving goalposts” in terms of provincial environmental cleanup standards which changed in recent years, Massey said.

Plans and design for the new building were ready to go several years ago. But the former dry cleaners’ site had to be environmentally remediated first at a cost of $350,000, the board chair said.

“It was an unexpected setback,” he said.

Underground contamination is a common obstacle to growth in the downtown, which has stymied redevelopment efforts, along with the struggling economy.

To help them cover some of the outstanding costs, Ruth & Naomi’s Mission is also launching an “adopt-a-room” fundraiser with the aim of raising the $15,000 costs to outfit each of the suites, he said.

“We’re so proud of the citizens, churches and businesses that have stepped forward to help so far. That’s what makes this project unique and different.”

But unfortunately they’re not quite there yet.

“It’s been made clear to us that we will now need some major funding to take us to the next level,” said Massey. “The need is too far-reaching and we’re going to need some government assistance.”

On a typical day, about 15 to 20 people stay overnight at Ruth & Naomi’s, for which the mission receives absolutely no subsidy.

“We have successfully managed to get several people off the street and into apartments. Some found employment. We just need to finish what we’ve started,” Massey said.

Just Posted

Judge to decide on mental fitness of man accused of Chilliwack River Valley shooting

Two psychiatrists disagree on fitness of Peter Kampos but Crown and defence agree he is unfit

Around the BCHL: Surrey Eagles sliding and Cassidy Bowes flows

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the league and around the junior A world.

BC Ferries passengers wait to leave Vancouver Island after Remembrance Day

Traffic aboard BC Ferries slows after Remembrance Day long weekend

Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove on the first 100 days

One-on-one discussion with the new mayor paints a picture of what’s in store for Chilliwack

UPDATE: Man, 19, dies in shooting on Ross Road in Abbotsford

Victim was airlifted to hospital Monday afternoon, but died shortly afterwards

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Fear of constitutional crisis escalates in U.S.; Canadians can relate

Some say President Donald Trump is leading the U.S. towards a crisis

B.C.-based pot producer Tilray reports revenue surge, net loss

Company remains excited about ‘robust’ cannabis industry

Canada stands pat on Saudi arms sales, even after hearing Khashoggi tape

Khashoggi’s death at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul further strained Riyadh’s already difficult relationship with Ottawa

Feds pledge money for young scientists, but funding for in-house research slips

Canada’s spending on science is up almost 10 per cent since the Liberals took office, but spending on in-house research is actually down

Stink at B.C. school prompts complaints of headaches, nausea

Smell at Abbotsford school comes from unauthorized composting operation

Disabled boy has ‘forgiven’ bullies who walked on him in stream, mom says

A Cape Breton teen who has cerebral palsy was told to lie in a stream as other kids walked over him

Letters shed light on state of mind of B.C. mom accused of daughter’s murder

Trial of South Surrey mother Lisa Batstone begins in BC Supreme Court

Vancouver man must pay $22,000 after breaking strata rules

Peter Gordon took his fight over his rented condo to the civil resolution tribunal, but lost

Most Read