Those dealing with chronic homelessness in Terrace could be moved into a new supportive housing project before Christmas this year.
“We’re really excited to have that available because it’s something that we’ve been needing for a long time,” said Amanda Bains, executive director at the Ksan Society.
Through the province’s Rapid Response to Homelessness program and the Ksan Society, the 52-unit multi-family residential apartment on 4523 Olson Avenue will provide low-barrier housing for people experiencing absolute homelessness. Of those 52 bachelor apartments, three of them will be accessible for clients with mobility issues. The province announced it was allocating close to $8 million towards the project in November 2017.
Each unit will have its own kitchenette with a stovetop and a fridge, private bathroom and a small living room area. Residents will have access to shared amenities, including laundry, meal programs, employment and life-skills training.
The main floor of the three-storey building will have staff office and meeting rooms as well as an open concept lounge, dining space and a common kitchen where dinner and breakfast will be served each day.
The apartment will hire between 16 to 18 supportive staff to work shifts around the clock, providing support for people managing a mental health diagnosis or battling addictions.
“We have eight units of transitional housing where it’s sort of a move-through process to get them integrated into the community, this is for individuals who will always need supports and just would not be able to live on their own,” Bains said.
Clients will need to get a referral from agencies like Northern Health, Terrace and District Community Services Society, or the Kermode Friendship Centre before they can start the application process so that staff can make sure each individual’s needs can be properly met.
“It’s more of a client-care plan as well, so you have the tenancy part of it, but it’s accessing that client’s specific needs, finding out which agency they’re affiliated with… just ensuring that we can provide the supports that they need.”
Since the Ksan House closed their extreme weather shelter on April 18, their emergency shelter has been consistently at a very high capacity. There is so little room available that the shelter has had to turn some people away., according to Bains. Even while the extreme weather shelter was open, they faced double occupancy numbers.
“We’re just too full,” Bains said. “It becomes a situation where we just don’t have any more actual, physical spots to put people.”
Realizing the scope of the demand, Bains said the Ksan House approached BC Housing about setting up a temporary shelter at 4444 Lakelse Avenue, in the same building where the extreme weather shelter was previously located. BCH agreed to fund the space for $17,000 a month, and it was able to reopen its doors on June 11, providing 20 more beds for those in need over the summer.
“It’s a short-term solution to filling in that gap between now and when our supportive housing project will be up and running,” Bains said, mentioning that the temporary shelter will be open from 8:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. each night until November 30.
The supportive housing project received their development permit from council on June 25, and land clearing operations are underway. After the modular building is completed off-site, the complex is expected to be operational by December 1 of this year.
“This modular-housing program is a critical step towards supporting our most vulnerable citizens and providing them with affordable quality housing,” said Mayor Carol Leclerc in a provincial press release.
The Terrace modular homes are part of a provincewide investment of $291 million to build 2,000 homes around the province, and more than $170 million over three years to provide staffing and support services 24 hours a day to these locations.