City council has voted in favour of requesting a third-party audit be done on three of B.C. Housing’s existing supportive housing facilities in Penticton.
The purpose of the audit would be to to determine if sufficient actions have been taken to support those in need and what the impact of the housing units has been on the community. Councillors voted in favour of requesting the audit today (Jan. 26) in a special council meeting.
The city would like to see the audit completed before BC Housing applies for any new development permits in the city. BC Housing recently announced plans to build a new 54 unit supportive housing project at 3240 Skaha Lake Road. The project, which would house those experiencing homelessness, would be modelled after the existing supportive housing facility Burdock House on Winnipeg Street.
Burdock House, Compass House, and Fairhaven Supportive Housing are the three facilities the city would like to see audited.
Council voted unanimously in favour of requesting the audit, citing the current lack of information on the impact to the community and effectiveness of BC Housing’s current supportive housing units.
Council recently asked for a housing needs assessment from BC Housing but has not yet received it.
Coun. Judy Sentes said it’s important that the city takes into consideration the needs and impacts of everyone in the community, including seniors and the “working poor” who are often overlooked by BC Housing.
“I recognize the authority BC Housing has but they’re not absolute.” Sentes said. “I feel strongly that they’re taking advantage of our community.
“Some of these agencies like BC Housing have tunnel vision… we need to take all of the needs of all our citizens into account before a decision like this can be made,” said coun. Katie Robinson.
Sentes noted that she would like to explore options for “early intervention and specific mental health help” instead of constructing more housing units with “no support.”
Coun. Robinson claimed the impacts of the current supportive housing have been vast, including causing local businesses to shutter.
Council, alongside Penticton MLA Dan Ashton, will attend a meeting via Zoom today with BC Housing minister David Eby at 4 p.m. to further discuss their desire for an audit. The topic is also on the agenda for the next regular council meeting Wednesday, Feb. 3.
“Stay tuned and we’ll bring information forward as we get it,” mayor John Vassilaki said to the public.