The Yale Road supportive housing facility opening soon in downtown Chilliwack was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting Friday and a little fanfare.
Housing Minister Selina Robinson joined Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove and other partners who wanted to say a few words of encouragement about the project, recognized that the event was taking place on unceded Stó:lō territory.
The 46 new homes, built by Metric Modular, will not simply offer a safe and warm place to sleep, the minister underlined.
“It also means hope for a better tomorrow,” said Robinson said.
“We’re fortunate to have such committed partners like the City of Chilliwack to help us break the cycle of homelessness and offer people the support they need to be part of a caring, connected community.”
Slated to see tenants by April 23, the modular housing will be providing homes for people who were once out on the streets.
“We do know that for too long people in British Columbia have been struggling under a significant weight of a housing crisis,” Robinson said. “For many people living without a home that struggle is so much greater. And that’s why I am so pleased to join in a celebration of the opening — or near opening — of this new supportive housing project.”
Mayor Ken Popove called it “an exciting day for Chilliwack,” pointing out that through their Homelessness Action Plan of 2016, that city reps formally recognized that supportive housing was something sorely needed.
“It’s here,” Popove said, about the first supporting housing facility set to open next month, and the second that’s on the way.
“That’s 92 people that we are going to be able to service,” Popove said about both combined.
About 20 people will be transitioning out of the winter shelter into the new housing at the former Traders Inn site in the coming weeks.
“That is a continuum of housing, and that is we’ve been striving for,” Popove added, “so I truly want to thank the minister, and B.C. Housing, for all the work you’ve done, and everyone here who is a part of this. This is something that is going to make a huge difference for Chilliwack.”
With funding of $7.7 million from BC Housing for the building, as well as future operating costs, the modular facility at 45944 Yale Road, will be run by RainCity Housing, with support from City of Chilliwack to purchase the land with funds reserved for Chilliwack’s first Housing First project.
A second supportive housing site at 45000 block of Trethewey Avenue is also in the development stage.
The tenants will share a kitchen, dining space, and medical room, but each individual will have their own private unit.
RainCity Housing and Support Society will operate the building and provide residents with meal programs, life and employment skills training, access to health and wellness support services, and opportunities for volunteer work.
“Over the last year, RainCity Housing has enjoyed getting to know the strong supportive community and service providers who are already working hard to address homelessness in Chilliwack,” said Catharine Hume, co-executive director, RainCity Housing.
“We look forward to working proactively with our neighbours and with the 11 Stó:lō communities, and are excited to be able to offer permanent, supported, affordable housing to local residents.”
Like the more than 2,000 units of supportive housing developments built across the province under the Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program, the Chilliwack project will feature around-the-clock services, from meals, to training and other support services.
They’ll have wrap-around services with an ICM team offering boots on the ground support to residents, moving them in the direction of services once they are stable. Staff will be on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to ensure tenants are safe, and the property is maintained.
This project brings the number of completed modular supportive homes built throughout the province to more than 1,000. Another 1,000 are underway, in 22 communities.