It’s taken more than a decade for Chilliwack to realize the dream of offering housing and health services in a one-stop shop, to help cut crime and violence in the streets.
The new Chilliwack Health & Housing Centre opened its doors on Oct. 16 with a special celebration.
“It started with a problem and ended with a triumph,” trumpets the press backgrounder on the Health & Housing Centre sent out from organizers.
Tenants are moving in to Annis Residences, the 22-unit housing component of the centre, located in a renovated motel on Hocking Road.
Mayor Sharon Gaetz can’t wait to see the impact the new centre will have on her city.
“A tremendous amount of time and effort by so many has gone into taking this centre from vision to reality,” she said. “We are extremely pleased that the day has come for this development to open its doors and serve those most at risk in our community. I for one can’t wait to see the difference this centre will make on our city.”
It was 2000 when a committee starting working toward a supportive housing facility for the homeless and addicted. They would offer wrap-around services targeting affordable housing, addiction and mental health issues, with everything from health and employment, to supportive housing programs.
It took a determined group of advocates from health and social service agencies, government, business and faith networks working toward a common goal.
They guided it from the nascent idea of a “contact centre” as it was first called, to solve some of the complex, multi-barrier issues that were erupting in downtown Chilliwack.
Fast forward to 2013, and the province through B.C. Housing has kicked in the lion’s share of $3.5 million for the building and renovations, plus $230,000 annually for housing.
“Our government believes that with strong partnerships we can create increased
supportive housing options for people who are homeless or at risk, not
only in our community but across the province,” said MLA John Martin.
“The Chilliwack Health and Housing Contact Centre is an excellent example of this, providing our community’s most vulnerable with 22 apartments of supportive housing and health services in one centralized location.”
Fraser Health will offer key resources including a nurse practitioner, physician support and a medical office assistant, to a mental health case worker and more.
“Having supportive housing and health services in one location will make a huge difference to the lives of many people in the community of Chilliwack,” said Andy Libbiter, executive director of mental health and substance use for Fraser Health.
The contact centre will be run by Pacific Community Resources Society (PCRS), at 8583 Young Road, with support services delivered by both PCRS and Fraser Health. Project proponents, and funding partners included the B.C Government and B.C. Housing, as well as City of Chilliwack, PCRS, Fraser Health, the Real Estate Foundation of B.C.
The City of Chilliwack chipped in $500,000 while PCRS will contribute $50,000 in equity toward the project.
The Real Estate Foundation of B.C. offered $50,000, while Fraser Health, will provide $25,000 a year for three years towards the operating costs, and $33,000 in annual operational funding for the residential component. Fraser Health will also make significant contributions through primary-care, mental-health and substance-use services provided in the centre.