KELOWNA, B.C. — Kelowna will be getting 40 new units to address homelessness thanks a to a partnership between the city, the province and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Kelowna.
“The need for safe and secure housing has never been clearer, and these new homes will give more people a place to call their own,” said Selina Robinson, minister of municipal affairs and housing, in a statement. “We are working quickly and urgently with our partners to protect all British Columbians during the COVID-19 crisis, including our province’s most vulnerable – because when people have housing, it’s good for everyone in the community.”
The project will be a three-storey modular apartment building that features 38 self-contained studio units with private washrooms, showers and kitchens. The building will also include a commercial kitchen, dining and lounge areas, storage and amenity space, laundry and a medical room.
Officials are hoping to expedite the building process and remove the requirement of municipal rezoning. The current lease is for 10 years, and the property will go through the municipal rezoning process if the lease is extended beyond that.
“Homelessness is an evolving, dynamic crisis in our community, and these kinds of partnerships go a long way towards creating solutions,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. “This is a strategic land investment that will not only create much needed solutions in the short term, but also has long-term potential with a future land use designation for multi-storey residential housing. In addition to being close to downtown, this property is ideally located adjacent to existing municipal park space and could fulfil many different civic objectives after expiry of the lease.”
CMHA Kelowna will operate the facility, providing residents with 24/7 onsite staff and support services, including meal programs, life and employment skills training, health and wellness support services and opportunities for volunteer work.
“Access to safe and stable housing is a crucial first step needed for anyone who experiences homelessness so they can begin to get their feet back under them,” said Shelagh Turner, executive director, CMHA Kelowna. “We are proud to be the operators of this building and our other supportive housing in Kelowna so we can be there to help end the cycle of homelessness.”
Site preparation work will start in June, with the facility scheduled for completion this fall.
The province will provide $9.5 million to the project through the Supportive Housing Fund, as well as an annual operating subsidy of $1.3 million.