Dignitaries, including local MP Stephen Fuhr and Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, cut the ribbon to open Heath House Thursday. —Image: contributed

Kelowna’s newest supportive housing project opens

Heath House, on Highway 97 North in a renovated motel, will house 50 people

Kelowna newest supportive housing project has opened, offering homes to 50 formerly homeless people in the city.

Heath House, a 40-unit facility on Harvey Avenue North near Leathead Road opened Thursday in a renovated former motel. The housing will be operated by the Canadian Mental Health Association.

The Association operates two other housing complexes in the city, Willowbridge and Gordon Place.

“Providing homes with appropriate supports is fundamental to supporting the health and wellness for people who may have been homeless for a long time,” said Shelagh Turner, executive director, CMHA Kelowna.

“Housing stability is the first step in clearing the way so people can thrive and move towards an improved quality of life.”

The opening of Heath House coincides with the closure of one of the city’s main homeless shelters Inn From The Cold.

A number of people who have been using that shelter will move into Heath House, said the CMHA.

Another downtown shelter, Cornerstone on Leon Avenue, is expected to close in March creating more need for homes for the homeless.

Health house is the seventh supportive housing facility to open in Kelowna, and follows on the heels of nearby Hearthstone, a 56-unit supportive housing complex on Commerce Road which opened at the end of 2017.

“I am pleased to see more homes in place for Kelowna residents struggling with homelessness,” said Colin Basran, mayor, City of Kelowna. “Heath House will provide safe, secure housing to our community members who need it most.”

Another, more controversial project, is slated for Agassiz Road in the Midtown area of the city. It recently had land rezoned for it by city council despite vocal opposition from area residents because, like the other facilities, it will allow drug use on-site.

Seniors living in the residential area say they fear for their safety and their neighbourhood if the project proceeds. And they have threatened to seek a court injunction to stop the project.

The day after the packed and lengthy public hearing for the Agassiz Road project, B.C. Housing announced yet another facility will be built on McIntosh Road in Rutland. It will also be a harm reduction supportive housing complex. Unlike Agassiz Road it will not require a rezoning so there will be no public hearing required.

The city’s Journey Home initiative to address homelessness calls for 300 units of supportive housing to be built in the city, in addition to support services for those with addiction and mental heath issues.

Like the other facilities, resident of Heath House will pay $375 a month in rent, which is provided by the provide as a social assistance shelter allowance.

Surveys have shown there are more than 280 homeless people in Kelowna.

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