Close to 40 new urgently-needed supportive homes for people experiencing homelessness in Kelowna will soon be built, thanks to a partnership between The Government of B.C., the City of Kelowna and Canadian Mental Health Association.

“The need for safe and secure housing has never been clearer, and these new homes will give more people a place to call their own,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We are working quickly and urgently with our partners to protect all British Columbians during the COVID-19 crisis, including our province’s most vulnerable – because when people have housing, it’s good for everyone in the community.”

Located at 1055 and 1063 Ellis St., the three-storey modular apartment building will include 38 self-contained studio units with private washrooms, showers and kitchens. The building will also include a commercial kitchen, dining and lounge areas, storage and amenity space, laundry and a medical room.

To help people move from the streets and shelters into this safe and secure housing, the city and the Province are working together to expedite the building process and removing the requirement of municipal rezoning. The current lease is for 10 years, and the property will go through the municipal rezoning process if the lease is extended beyond that.

“Homelessness is an evolving, dynamic crisis in our community, and these kinds of partnerships go a long way towards creating solutions,” said Colin Basran, mayor, City of Kelowna. “This is a strategic land investment that will not only create much needed solutions in the short term, but also has long-term potential with a future land use designation for multi-storey residential housing.”

In addition to these homes, the Province has worked with partners to open 136 supportive homes for people experiencing homelessness in Kelowna over the last two years. This includes 50 homes at Samuel Place, 40 at Heath House and 46 at Hearthstone. An additional 138 supportive homes are currently underway.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Kelowna will operate the new housing. It will provide residents with 24/7 on-site staff and support services, including meal programs, life and employment skills training, health and wellness support services and opportunities for volunteer work.

Shelagh Turner, executive director, CMHA Kelowna sees the project key to help end the cycle of homelessness. “Access to safe and stable housing is a crucial first step needed for anyone who experiences homelessness so they can begin to get their feet back under them.”

Site preparation work will start in June, with construction expected to be complete in fall 2020.