Our Place is Vernon’s newest permanent shelter for the homeless. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)

New, permanent shelter replaces aging Okanagan building

Our Place will be open 24 hours a day in Vernon

A new, secure permanent shelter for the homeless, opening this week to replace the Howard House, will offer people the support they need to begin to regroup.

The Our Place shelter features 46 beds, a dining room, commercial kitchen, laundry facilities and washrooms. It also includes a separate storage facility for residents’ belongings. Beds are also available for people with disabilities and rooms are available to couples.

“Our Place provides a welcome, needed refuge from living on the street,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Our government recognizes that shelters are only an early part of the solution when people are homeless, and that is why we are also building supportive housing for the community that will open in the spring.”

According to October 2018 statistics, 161 people in Vernon identified as experiencing homelessness.

“It’s very humble but it’s a huge step up,” said Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming. “We know there’s 160-170 people who have no housing so we’re going to need 100 beds at the entry level and we need that many at the next level. It’s all good and we’re celebrating victories and that’s what we’re doing here today but we do know what that gap is and we’re working on it and we’d never be here without BC Housing.”

Read more: Affordable housing development addresses ‘hidden homeless’ problem

According to Ann Howard, the regional director for BC Housing for the interior region, the building will cost about $1.3 million a year operationally — something she, and the mayor agreed was very reasonable.

“When you do the math it’s about $25,000 a year per person and that’s a fairly reasonable economical model,” Cumming said.

“We’ve done lots of studies and for people who are not housed in a shelter or supportive housing, the cost to taxpayers is much more — I think it’s in the neighbourhood of $80,000 a year,” added Howard.

Turning Points Collaborative Society, which provided the land for the project, will operate the shelter and provide guests with meal services, along with access to life skills training, employment programs and counselling, as well as health and legal services through a community network.

“Our Place is an important first step in homelessness prevention,” said Randene Wejr, co-executive director, Turning Points Collaborative. “Thanks to our housing partners and community stakeholders for supporting this project to help people experiencing homelessness toward the first steps to recovery.”

Our Place plans to open this weekend at 2307 43rd St. The 12-room facility will be open 24 hours a day, year-round. Individuals will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis. Individuals must be over the age of 19 who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Pets are also welcome.

Delivering affordable housing is a shared commitment between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and is a part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement. The Ministry said Howard House is closing due to its aging and obsolete building.

According to B.C. Housing, the province offers over 2,100 spaces of shelter; this translates to nearly 1,700 temporary beds and $93 million annually being allocated to combat homelessness.

“A shelter is the first step,” said Howard. “It’s a start where people can be connected with folks that care, don’t judge them but actually believe they can have a start to a new life. People make choices and here it’s easy to make a good choice that helps them along in their life and they can feel supported in that.”

To report a typo, email:

Follow me on Twitter @BrieChar
Email me brieanna.charlebois@vernonmorningstar.com
Like us on Facebook.


Ann Howard, regional director for BC Housing for the interior region, poses in the kitchen of Our Place shelter in Vernon. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)

Our Place includes 46 shelter beds. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)

Just Posted

Three vehicle ‘sandwich’ crash delays traffic in Rutland

An accident at the McCurdy and Mayfair Road intersection was reported just before 4:30 p.m.

A BBQ thank you at Kelowna’s Gospel Mission

The ninth annual Well Done BBQ brought Kelowna together

Two West Kelowna residents were arrested for alleged drug trafficking

RCMP executed a search warrant at a Chieftain Road home

Two Kelowna sites rezoned for pot shops

Cannabis retailers closer to reality for Lawrence Avenue, St. Paul Street

Vernon senior feels trapped in long-term care facility

Rose-Marie Lepodvin says she wants assisted living, but feels trapped in long-term care

VIDEO: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to be re-released with new footage

‘Avatar’ holds global box office record at $2.788 billion, while ‘Endgame’ stands at $2.743 billion…

South Okanagan mountain resort sees lengthy snowfall

Snow stayed on the ground for four, says resort manager

Elias Pettersson wins Calder Trophy as NHL’s top rookie

Vancouver forward first Canuck to win award since Pavel Bure in 1992

FVRD chair calls B.C. incineration plan for Philippines waste ‘disturbing’

Metro Vancouver ‘uniquely capable’ of safely disposing of waste coming back to Canada, say officials

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

Shovels could be in the ground on Trans Mountain by September, CEO says

Ian Anderson points to weeks likely required for NEB to reinstate 2016 regulatory record

Interior forestry workers ratify five-year contract

It was approved by United Steelworkers Local 1-417, which represents workers in Kamloops, Kelowna

Scorpion gives birth after hitching ride in B.C. woman’s luggage

A Vancouver woman inadvertently brought the animal home from a trip to Cuba

Man surrenders following standoff in Kamloops

Massive police response in Kamloops was in connection with a reported domestic dispute

Most Read