Shelley Kiefiuk

Shelley Kiefiuk

A place to call home in Vernon

Blair Apartments is a safe and stable environment for those transitioning out of shelters.

It’s difficult for Jeff Goodwin to contain his enthusiasm.

Just within a few feet is Goodwin’s unit at the Blair Apartments — a place he can call his own.

“It means everything to me,” he said.

The 39-unit rental complex on 28th Avenue provides a safe and stable environment for those transitioning out of shelters.

For Goodwin, life has been improving steadily since he moved in.

“I’m doing extremely well,” he said.

The Blair Apartments were officially opened Thursday in the former Journey Inn Motel, which was purchased by B.C. Housing.

It’s virtually at capacity and there are 150 applications on a wait list.

Among the tenants is a mother and child who were at risk of homelessness.

“Safe, affordable housing is scarce in our community,” said Steve McVarnock, president of the John Howard Society, which operates the apartments.

There is a mix of unit sizes and a common area for cooking and socializing.

“Friendships will be formed here,” said McVarnock.

Blair Apartments are named after Blair Peden, a retired probation officer who has been on the John Howard Society board for 40 years.

Peden welcomes the new units, but admits it may give local residents the false impression that the homeless issue is solved.

“We will do everything possible to make sure this doesn’t happen,” he said.

“As our population grows, the need will become greater.”

Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, says the provincial government could make further investments in housing like Blair Apartments.

“This is an ongoing issue — people need good housing.”

Foster says the relationship between government and John Howard has been positive.

“We will continue to partner with them to assist people in need of housing.”

Juliette Cunningham, a Vernon councillor, insists Blair Apartments is a first step in providing affordable housing.

“On a cold day, you can appreciate that more people will have the dignity to have a place to call home. It should be a fundamental right,” she said.