A new housing project aimed at providing shelter for Kelowna residents experiencing homelessness isn’t intended to be permanent.
Last Friday, the provincial government and the City of Kelowna revealed plans for several new supportive housing and shelter spaces, aimed at providing new support for the city’s homeless.
One of those spaces is a 55-bed modular housing unit that BC Housing hopes to put up on land it leases in an industrial area at 1642 Commerce Ave.
According to a B.C. government press release, BC Housing already owns the units, and plans to repurpose them for use in Kelowna, to help “expedite” their delivery and installation.
In order for that to happen, the city will need to approve a development permit for the project.
In a letter to the city outlining the proposed project, Horizon North (the modular building company that constructed the units) says the units are only intended to be a temporary fix.
The letter says the 12,000-square-foot building will be built on a temporary wood frame, because it is “intended to be relocated to another town or neighbourhood as (BC Housing’s) needs shift.”
Until that happens, the 55-bed supportive housing centre will feature 141-square-foot, dorm-style rooms stacked into two storeys.
The rooms will feature private bathrooms, and residents will have access to shared laundry. There will also be a shared public space featuring offices, a reception space, dining hall, and support services.
The facility will be continually staffed, with closed-circuit television cameras, controlled access and fencing.
The province has ponied up $3.4 million in capital funding for the project.
The project is just one part of a plan that includes 80 temporary shelter beds on Leon Avenue, and 52 more units of modular housing planned for a still-undecided location.
“We are very pleased with the province’s reinvigorated investments in housing solutions for Kelowna,” said Doug Gilchrist, the divisional director of community planning and strategic investments for the City of Kelowna. “These investments will add a variety of housing options to address a spectrum of needs in our community.”
In total, The provincial government plans to invest $291 million to build 2,000 modular housing units across the province for people who are homeless, and more than $170 million over three years to provide round-the-clock staffing and support services at them.
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