A major step has been taken to expand affordable housing opportunities in Vernon.
B.C. Housing has purchased the Journey Inn motel on 28th Avenue downtown and 38 units will be operated as affordable housing under contract by the John Howard Society.
It builds on our goal of providing a continuum of housing options for low-income residents in the North Okanagan,” said Barbara Levesque, John Howard Society executive director.
It’s expected many of the tenants will be employed but they find the cost of housing difficult. Others will be seniors who have been in transitional housing for up to two years.
Singles and couples will be able to live in the units independently and they will be referred by various community agencies.
“It’s really meant to develop a sense of community for these individuals,” said Annette Sharkey, with the Social Planning Council.
Among the amenities will be a community kitchen and a common garden, where the pool is currently located.
There will be building supervision on site.
“We are following a model of service similar to a B.C. Housing facility in Penticton,” said Levesque.
Information about the housing complex and John Howard’s plans have been provided to adjacent property owners.
“The John Howard Society is a good neighbour and it acts to help improve the neighbourhood,” said Sharkey.
Six to 10 tenants, who have been screened, will move in over the next few weeks, and renovations will begin this fall and continue until late 2016.
“The location is within walking distance to many amenities and is ideal for people who cannot afford transportation,” said Levesque.
“This project will give tenants the opportunity to live with dignity and hope for a brighter future.”
While the Journey Inn project is moving ahead, Sharkey insists that this is a separate initiative from the closure of the Green Valley Motel.
“For those (evicted from) the Green Valley, we are encouraging tenants to contact housing outreach services and the Gateway Shelter is the emergency plan for those who don’t have housing,” she said.
The Journey Inn property will be renamed as part of its shift to housing units.
“Purchasing the Journey Inn is an important step to increasing the affordable housing options for Vernon,” said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA.