Warm indoor shelter will soon be available for those sheltering outside.
B.C. Housing, the John Howard Society of Okanagan and Kootenay and the City of Kelowna have partnered together to provide 40 beds at a city-owned property.
The site will be operated by the John Howard Society and funded by the provincial government.
The building, located at 555 Fuller Avenue, will temporarily house 40 people who already have beds at Cornerstone and the Kelowna Gospel Mission to free up space at those two shelters for those who are currently out on the streets or camping at Recreation Avenue.
“The temporary housing will be available until Mar. 31,” said Michelle LaBoucane, a representative for the John Howard Society of Okanagan & Kootenay.
After that, she said those living at 555 Fuller Avenue will then be moved into the McIntosh Road Supportive Housing so the building can be demolished to make way for affordable housing.
“Everyone deserves a safe, secure place to call home,” said Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson.
“This project will create space for more people to come inside off the streets as we work to build urgently needed permanent supportive housing in Kelowna.”
The temporary shelter will open in mid-December once renovations are finished. The John Howard Society will provide the beds, meals, washrooms, and amenity space. At least two staff members will be on site around the clock.
B.C. Housing is working with the City of Kelowna as it decides on another location for an additional temporary winter space.
Central Okanagan Journey Home Society’s board chair Kyleen Myrah said they are excited about the new bridge housing.
“The Journey Home Strategy calls for diverse forms of housing, and this housing at 555 Fuller Avenue to bridge people from the shelter system into housing with supports is an example of that needed diversity of options,” Myrah said.
“While we acknowledge this accomplishment, we recognize there is still work to be done and we will continue to work with our partners on the short-, medium- and long-term solutions to address homelessness in our community.”
The new temporary housing comes after residents sheltering in tents on Leon Avenue were relocated to the baseball diamond on Recreation Avenue and to Poplar Point at the base of Knox Mountain.
Since last week’s move, north end residents have held protests in response to the relocation. Many have cited safety concerns, while others criticized the City of Kelowna for the lack of notice and perceived poor planning.
On Monday afternoon, residents rallied in support of those sheltering outside. Around 20 individuals gathered outside city hall, calling on the local government to provide more shelter before temperatures drop further and more snow sticks around.