Brian Pickett is one of five residents moving into Butchart House, a shared living program. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

New house adds to affordable housing continuum in Chilliwack

‘Nothing good happens without good housing,’ says head of PCRS

Another piece of the affordable-housing puzzle just fell into place.

The Butchart House Shared Living Program was launched Thursday in Chilliwack with plans to provide stable housing for five people exiting a supportive housing program.

“Nothing good happens without good housing. It’s the first step to anything else,” said PCRS executive director Ingrid Kastens.

Butchart House is a purpose built home, with individual bedrooms and communal living space designed for its residents.

The house will be run by Pacific Community Resources Society (PCRS) staff, and is set to be furnished by BC Housing in the coming weeks.

She described the house purchase last year by BC Housing as “really unprecedented” since it was set up with a forgivable mortgage, which allows PCRS to repay the debt over time.

“What that means for the neighbours is that PCRS will become the landlords of Butchart House. So it’s really going to be no different than renting elsewhere in the community,” Kastens said, thanking the neighbours who showed up to the Open House.

Neighbours, builders, program providers, visitors and future residents were served barbecued cheeseburgers at an open house event on Sept. 21, with lunch provided by Freedom Construction, the house builders.

“This housing crisis has affected everyone who doesn’t own their own home,” said Jutta Wykpis, manager of the Health and Housing contact centre.

PCRS staff will continue to provide a support network to help the residents with any issues that may arise, especially since it’s those who have been at risk for homelessness, or struggling with substance or mental health issues.

“Butchart House is a way of providing affordable market rental housing, while also offering key supports to program participants,” said Wykpis.

Whether it’s budgeting for rent money, or employment prep or other life skills will be shared with program participants who might need a little extra support.

Getting people into a stable living situation, and then keeping them housed, can sometimes be a challenge.

“This is a way to mitigate that,” Wykpis said.

Incoming resident Brian Pickett told The Progress he is excited to be moving in later this fall.

He’ll be bringing his stuff over from the Annis Residence in the Chilliwack Health and Housing contact centre on Hocking Avenue, to the shared living setup in the just completed Butchart House.

“It’s been a privilege and an honour to be living at PCRS (contact centre) for the past two years,” said Pickett, 63, in the little speech he made.

Pickett said later he feels ready to take “the next step” to live more independently, after maintaining his sobriety for two years, and taking courses, like fork lift operator training and occupational first aid.

“It’s helped me a great deal to get my head screwed on right,” he said about his stay at the contact centre.

Coun. Ken Popove, co-chair of the Chilliwack Healthier Community, called it an “exciting” day to see the opening of Butchart House, and brought congratulations and greetings from city council to those launching the new housing program.

READ MORE: First Low-Barrier Facility Coming

The shared living program dovetails with the City of Chilliwack’s Homelessness Action Plan, released in 2016, in partnership with health and social service providers in CHC.

The new house will complement several projects for affordable or supportive housing getting underway in Chilliwack, in the coming months and years.

READ MORE: Affordable Housing Project to be built


 

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Coun. Ken Popove speaks during an open house for the Butchart House Shared Living Program. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Brian Pickett is one of five residents moving into Butchart House, a shared living program. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

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