Amanda Bains, executive director of the Ksan House Society, left, and North Coast NDP MLA tour one of the modular apartments at Sonder House in 2019. (Black Press Media file photo)

Amanda Bains, executive director of the Ksan House Society, left, and North Coast NDP MLA tour one of the modular apartments at Sonder House in 2019. (Black Press Media file photo)

Report details successes, challenges sixteen months after Sonder House opened in Terrace

Survey suggests high levels of satisfaction among residents

Most residents at Sonder House in Terrace are satisfied with their housing and supports, a new BC Housing Research Centre report estimates.

A snapshot of the building’s outcomes 16 months after it first opened in 2019 to address homelessness, the report took into account a resident survey, interviews with three staff members and BC Housing data. One third of residents took part in the survey.

Sonder House is located at 4523 Olson Ave., just beyond the public health unit building, and contains 52 units of housing for individuals at risk of, or are experiencing homelessness. Ksan Society operates the building under contract from the province and provides support services for residents.

The majority of residents are between the age of 25 and 54-years-old (77 per cent), and 67 per cent of residents are Indigenous. Three quarters of residents are male.

According to the report, 95 per cent of residents were homeless when they moved into Sonder House, and the large majority of survey respondents (88 per cent) were satisfied with their housing unit. Eighty-two per cent were satisfied with the level of support they received.

Other positive findings where included in the report. Everyone that took the survey reported good relationships with other residents, and most people feel safe in the building (68 per cent).

But there were some issues identified by the BC Housing Research Centre relating to Sonder House.

“Some Sonder House residents have experienced challenges since moving to their new home. Staff noted that adjusting from living outside to living inside has been a challenge for some residents,” the report states.

“There have also been challenges for residents related to living communally with others, and some residents are not yet engaging with staff to access services and supports.”

The building itself, which uses a modular design, was criticized for issues with its door locking system, lack of common and storage space, and poor durability of some building materials.

Also, the report lists community relations as “mixed.”

When Sonder House first opened, staff reported some resistance from the community, but staff say that complaints from neighbours have dried up since the parking lot was paved and fencing was installed.

Fifteen per cent of residents were asked to leave within the first six months after the building opened, mostly for “behavioural issues,” the report states.

The City of Terrace provided the parcel of land for Sonder House, and the provincial government offered about $10 million in capital funding for the project.

The province’s contributions were part of $7 billion allocated in the 2018 budget for the construction of 20,400 supportive and affordable homes for people experiencing homelessness and for fixed-and middle-income earners.

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