Photo: Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, talks with Vernon councillor Juliette Cunningham and Mayor Akbal Mund at news conference at The People Place.
The BC government is committing 11 million dollars to deal with homelessness and addictions issues in Vernon.
Housing minister Selina Robinson says that’s for two projects, to be operated by the John Howard Society of the North Okanagan.
A new, permanent modular-housing project will be located on land owned by BC Housing at 27th Avenue and 35th Street, (just west of the People Place) which will provide 53 supportive housing units for people transitioning out of homelessness. These will be self-contained units with personal kitchens and washrooms.
A new permanent modular shelter with 45 beds will also be constructed at 2307 43rd Street (next to the Howard House) to expand capacity of the current homeless shelter and transitional housing development at Howard House.
Randene Wejr, co executive director of the John Howard Society — which will operate the facilities — says modular housing can be produced quicker.
“It’s produced off-site. It’s kind of put together like Lego, if that makes sense. The units are actually built and prepared before hand, and then trucked up here,” Wejr tells Kiss FM.
The new shelter is expected to open in March, with the new apartment about a year away.
The city of Vernon is partnering on the projects, and Manager of Current Planning Craig Broderick says that will include helping them through the approval process.
“In terms of development permits, servicing, just help them through the process. We’re an enabler or a supporting partner. They don’t need zoning. They already have the zoning for the two sites,” Broderick tells Kiss FM.”
We know there’s an urgent need to address homelessness in Vernon and communities throughout British Columbia,” says Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “These modular projects will make an incredible difference in the lives of vulnerable people in the city who are struggling to find and maintain stable housing.”
“We’re pleased to see the Province step up to address homelessness with support to deliver these modular housing units in Vernon,” says Vernon mayor Akbal Mund. “We applaud the Province’s efforts to create more safe and secure housing options that support some of Vernon’s most vulnerable citizens.”
Mund paid special tribute to Selina Robinson by showing off his “singing talents” at the news conference:
Vernon follows Vancouver as the second B.C. community to include modular housing as part of a solution to help address homelessness.
“The announcement of modular housing projects in Vernon is a significant milestone for us,” said Kelly Fehr and Randene Wejr, co-executive directors of the John Howard Society of the North Okanagan. “We’re pleased to be partnering with the Province to provide supportive housing to those in need.”
The Province continues to work with a number of communities across B.C. to determine locations for additional modular housing.
The government is investing $291 million to build 2,000 modular-housing units for people who are homeless and more than $170 million over three years to provide 24/7 staffing and support services.