Penticton residents had lots of questions for a panel of staff from BC Housing on Tuesday night.
A total of 98 people joined the virtual meeting that BC Housing held about the supportive housing project slated for 3240 Skaha Lake Road.
A contractor hasn’t been awarded yet but people could be moving in at the start of 2022, said BC Housing at the meeting.
The Skaha Lake Rd. site is zoned for the use and would not require rezoning but will require a development permit from the city,” said BC Housing’s Matthew Brodie.“Part of supportive housing is to help people move forward in their wellness journey,” BC Housing Dawn Hilmer said.
Most units will be studios with some couples suites with rent set at $375 per month. There is a full range of ages that live in supportive housing. The new Skaha housing will be modelled after the Burdock House on Winnipeg St.
BC Housing is seeing more seniors and Indigenous people moving into housing in the Okanagan, said BC Housing’s Nanette Drobot.
“There has been a rise in homeless population across the Interior so we’ve had to respond. Penticton isn’t the only place. Kelowna has four homes coming. We recently announced two in Vernon, we are looking at Grand Forks and Kamloops and the Kootneys,” said Drobot.
“COVID has exacerbated the need for housing so we are trying to get buildings through to occupancy as fast as possible,” said Drobot.
One person asked what BC Housing has learned from the other supportive housing they have around town like Burdock House?
“BC Housing looks at safety and security – there is a big difference between shelters and supportive housing,” said Drobot.
“We have cameras and we increase lighting,” Himer said. As for how problem tenants are dealt with, Himer said they work with the community and RCMP.
“Our operators are the bridge to the community,” Himer said.
“Selecting tenants is about balance. We want a mix of low support and high support needs who are active in substance use or mental health. The selection is led by our psych nurse,” Drobot said.
No one on the panel had any information on whether the current BC Housing sites in Penticton have had break ins, drug dealing or parties connected to the tenants.
“There will be two trained staff overnight. There are no visitors past 11 p.m. Once someone has a home, it does make a difference,” Himer said.
“We have a fulsome relationship with RCMP and business neighbours. Community advisory committee helps solve problems that come up,” Himer said.
BC Housing also has the Super 8 Motel which is a 30 bed shelter with 18 supportive housing units.
An operator will be selected very soon for the Skaha housing, they said.