A new modular housing facility with wrap-around support services will be built in Chilliwack at the former Traders Inn site on Yale Road.
The proposed 46-unit project will assist the homeless, and those at risk of it, to get off the streets, and transition into stability with key services in place to help them do it.
The B.C. government has worked closely with City of Chilliwack on the project for months, applying Housing First principles to provide 24/7 support with an intensive case management (ICM) team geared to mental health and addiction services.
The rundown motel property at 45944 Yale Rd. was purchased last year by the Province for $1.7 million, and the project will cost $9 million. City of Chilliwack pledged to contribute $700,000, which had been set aside in reserve for Chilliwack’s first major Housing First initiative.
“Many communities in our province have expressed the need for housing to support vulnerable citizens,” said Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz. “Chilliwack has worked with BC Housing and we are grateful for the supports that they are offering to us.”
The wrap-around support services will be provided by the ICM team of nurses, community-support workers, and clinicians, who will assess health issues, help residents access treatment and rehabilitation services.
The new facility will feature a medical room and private units, with washrooms and kitchenettes for each resident. They’ll get meals, skills training and health/wellness services.
“Everyone needs a home and this will provide a safe place with wrap-around services to those who need it most,” Mayor Gaetz said. “Thank you to the Province for providing new hope to those who need it most.”
A rezoning application is expected to be submitted soon.
“This project offering housing with supports is going to make a marked difference,” said Coun. Ken Popove, chair of the Housing First committee. “It is going to be huge for Chilliwack.”
The 46 housing units will dovetail with an in-house ICM team. Housing is desperately needed, he said, but having the level of added support where staff can visit, check meds or recommend counselling, for example is going to make it work.
“We’ve been talking about this for months and to finally see it coming to fruition is extremely gratifying,” Popove said. “I want to thank the members of the Housing First committee, who have been pushing for this hard from our end in Chilliwack.”
Popove said the ICM team will be based out of the Chilliwack General Hospital initially as the new modular housing facility is built later this year.
Request for expressions of interest by an operator has been issued and BC Housing will be reviewing proposals.
“We need to get people into safe and secure housing, so they can get the supports they need to begin the process of turning their lives around,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
“It’s great to see communities throughout British Columbia interested in working with us to deliver this much-needed housing for some of our most vulnerable neighbours. Getting this project off the ground is an important first step in addressing homelessness here in Chilliwack,” said Minister Robinson.
An open house hosted by provincial reps will be scheduled at a later date for Chilliwack residents to learn more details.
“We know secure housing has a direct link to peoples’ mental health and overall well-being,” said Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy.
Once a resident is in stable housing, the ICM team is active, connecting them to a broad range of services, with compassion and commitment, and able to offer culturally safe and trauma-specific services. The ICM teamwork will be in partnership with the First Nations Health Authority.
“Our partnership is grounded in the reality that our people are disproportionately impacted in our current public-health state of emergency,” said Richard Jock, chief operating officer, First Nations Health Authority. “Working in concert with Fraser Health and housing partners will ensure our efforts are systematic and bring together the best services for First Nations in the region.”
An expression of interest for an operator has been issued and BC Housing is currently reviewing all the proposals submitted.
Questions about the project can be sent to: email@example.com
The Chilliwack project is part of a provincewide investment of $291 million to build 2,000 homes around the province and more than $170 million over three years to provide 24/7 staffing and support services. Through this effort, 1,300 new homes are under construction for those most in need.