Penticton city council has endorsed a B.C. Housing plan to bring 52 units of low-income housing to the city, trying to alleviate the housing crises that has people camping above the city because they can’t find a home. Mark Brett/Western News

2018 may be the year of affordable housing

Penticton should see new housing for people with moderate to no income in 2018

If all goes well, construction should start on 52 units of modular housing in Penticton by mid-2018.

“This is a rapid response to homelessness, so the provincial government in pushing hard to get this in place as soon as they can,” said city planning manager Blake Laven.

Recent studies have shown the problems Penticton is facing with non-market housing and entry-level rentals.

The city’s 2016 housing market assessment showed an immediate shortage of 240 units of non-market housing and a longer-term deficit of another 400 units of non-market housing.

Related: Nearly two-in-five renters living in inadequate housing

Laven explained that non-market housing includes a wide group of people whose limited income prevents them from accessing the regular housing market: homeless, but also single parents and others with low incomes, people with disabilities.

The group 100 Homes Penticton was also surveying the problem, including connecting creating a housing registry of every homeless person in Penticton, starting in November 2016.

Related: Community leaders strive to build residences for Penticton homeless

Over 200 people were interviewed, with 128 people fitting the definition of homeless, and 75 being chronically homeless. The problem was a lot bigger than anybody realized or expected,” said Laven.

The community response to the problem, he continued, has helped reduce that. Preliminary results from this year’s survey are encouraging.

“This year, there were only 92 persons interviewed … and only 76 of those were experiencing homelessness,” said Laven. “There are still too many people experiencing homelessness in Penticton.

Council voted unanimously to endorse a Memorandum of Understanding from the B.C. Housing Authority, and get the ball rolling on the 52 units of modular housing, part of a provincial initiative to address housing issues.

Some councillors were concerned that there would still be room for negotiation with the housing authority unlike with the conversion of the old Super 8 motel into social housing.

“By the time it came to council the project was so far along that we had no choice but to see it through,” said Coun. Max Picton.

Though he approved on the project, he wanted to ensure the city had input into placement and other factors.

Related: Super 8 getting more than social housing

Laven reassured council the intent of the MOU was not to put the city in that position but to work collaboratively for finding an appropriate spot.

Next year will also see the start of construction on the affordable housing project on Brunswick Street, which the city signed an agreement with the province for in 2015.

“They’re in the process of just revising that design on that building and should be under construction in February or March of 2018,” said Anthony Haddad, director of development services. “The project is still moving ahead, and we look forward to seeing it under construction early next year.”

Related: Affordable housing project planned for Penticton

That project will create 67 units of affordable housing, aimed at young families and people with moderate incomes.

City council also approved a plan to help ensure Penticton is ready and waiting when funding for further provincial and federal governments housing programs are announced.

Staff suggested using funds from the city’s $160,000 Affordable Housing Reserve Fund to establish a program to assist local not-for-profit housing providers in preparing for expected provincial and federal housing funding announcements.

“Suffice it to say, there will be substantial opportunities for senior government investment in housing in B.C.,” reads Laven’s report to council. “In speaking with B.C. Housing staff familiar with the situation in Penticton, the feeling is that Penticton needs to be well prepared to respond to the various expected funding announcements. This is an issue the city has, and should continue, to take leadership on.”

The new program will see cities partnering with local groups, providing seed funding to hire development consultants, a specialist who provides development assistance and advice to not-for-profit housing providers, who generally specialize in operating housing, not developing it. The goal of the program is to have shovel-ready Penticton projects when funding announcements are made.

City staff are anticipating grants of up to $5,000 per housing provider, but there is no estimate of the total cost of the program at this point.

Related: Data shows growing amount of income spent on housing

Just Posted

Sandelin scores twice as Penticton Vees defeat West Kelowna Warriors

Penticton Vees bounced back to defeat the West Kelowna Warriors in second of home-and-home series

Okanagan mentor awarded national Coach of the Year

Penticton’s Rob Kober was named the Jack Donohue Coach of the Year

International students hit hard by B.C. tuition fee hikes

Campaign seeks regulatory controls be imposed on post-secondary institutions

Summerland wineries turn on the lights

Bottleneck Drive offers 8th annual Light up the Vines

Share a Smile Telethon moves to Cherry Lane Shopping Centre

The 39th annual event benefits the OSNS Child & Youth Development Centre

Your weekday weather update

Flurries and more rain anticipated for the Okanagan - Shuswap

EU divorce deal in peril after two UK Cabinet ministers quit

Negotiators from Britain and the European Union have struck a proposed divorce deal that will be presented to politicians on both sides for approval, officials in London and Brussels said Tuesday.

Feds respond to sexual assault investigation at B.C. naval base

Report of Oct. 5 sexual assault on Vancouver Island base taken over by Canadian Forces National Investigation Service

Northern California fire death toll at 56; 130 missing

Many of the missing are elderly and from Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 to the north of Paradise.

Canfor to buy 70 per cent stake in Swedish Vida Group for $580 million

The privately held company has nine sawmills in southern Sweden with an annual production capacity of 1.1 billion board feet.

Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty in Khashoggi’s killing

Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor is recommending the death penalty for five suspects charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Mixing business and family: Trudeau turns to Singapore ancestors to widen trade

Trudeau’s ancestor, Esther Bernard, born Farquhar (1796-1838) was the daughter of Major-General William Farquhar (1774-1839), the first British Resident and Commandant of Singapore.

Baloney Meter: Will tougher penalties for gang members make Canada safer?

Since 2013, gang-related homicides in Canada’s largest cities have almost doubled

Early data suggests no spike in pot-impaired driving after legalization: police

Some departments said it’s too early to provide data, others said initial numbers suggest stoned driving isn’t on the rise

Most Read