A new operator will take over support needs at Fairhaven and the proposed 52-unit supportive housing building announced on Friday.
Incidents at the social housing project Fairhaven brought concerns to the community, including a shooting in November where no one was injured. Mayor Andrew Jakubeit hopes those will be alleviated when ASK Wellness takes over to provide services.
“With Fairhaven, there was a lot that was learned,” said Jakubeit.
“Realizing if you don’t have 24/7 support services you start to notice the impacts around the neighbouring community. There are people preying on others that are in a vulnerable position but with proper security measures and support mechanisms in place you are now giving people a chance to learn new skills and hopefully reintegrate into the community as active participants,” he said. “These are services that were not in place in the past. With Fairhaven we were in a rush to provide housing and that is only one part of the solution. We didn’t have these services to ensure people are not being preyed upon or have bad influences around them and that only compounds the problem for not just those people, but the neighbourhood directly around them but the community as a whole.”
A representative with B.C. Housing confirmed that ASK Wellness would be running Fairhaven and the proposed facility on the property at the Skaha Sunrise Apartments on Skaha Lake Road at Green Avenue, which is provincially owned land. The housing will feature 52 new homes, giving Penticton 146 units for people in need of housing. It will also provide the housing with 24/7 support services to help young people, people with disabilities, seniors and others in critical housing need. It is anticipated to be built by December 2018.
B.C. Housing said when Fairhaven first opened in December 2016, the intent was to house people with low support needs. However, they added, many of the current tenants have mental health and wellness issues.
The housing will feature 52 new homes, giving Penticton 146 units for people in need of housing. It will also provide the housing with 24/7 support services to help young people, people with disabilities, seniors and others in critical housing need. The other social housing project, Compass Court, will continue to be owned and operated by the Penticton & District Society for Community Living.
Each home at the proposed Skaha Sunrise Apartments site will include a private bathroom and kitchen and there will be a shared amenity space for programming and no-cost laundry facilities. Residents will also have access to support services, such as meal programs, life and employment skills training, and health and wellness supports.
“We are honoured and privileged to work with the City of Penticton, B.C. Housing and local stakeholders to help develop and operate the proposed 52-unit modular housing facility,” said Bob Hughes, executive director of ASK Wellness. “Our experience and success housing and supporting individuals with histories of homelessness throughout the region provides us the confidence that we can make a difference in the community of Penticton. We believe this housing facility and the supports provided onsite will help transform the lives of the residents, allowing them to regain their dignity and sense of hope.”
The provincial government has identified a location and operator for modular housing in Penticton that will be built by local manufacturer Metric Modular.
“We’re acting to provide a rapid solution to homelessness in the community, but we’re also thrilled that part of the solution here in Penticton involves a local company,” said Selina Robinson, minister of municipal affairs and housing. “When we work together and build multi-lateral partnerships between the province, the city and local business, we ensure that the needs of those experiencing homelessness and the whole community are addressed.”
The property was chosen as B.C. Housing’s preferred location, but Jakubeit said city council will still be involved as there will be zoning that will need to be dealt with. Neighbouring residents and businesses will have the opportunity to learn more about the project through an open house that will be scheduled later in April. B.C. Housing said they are committed to following the municipal process to ensure the location is appropriately zoned for the project.
Kristi Patton | Editor
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Correction notice: In the original article it stated that the Penticton & District Society for Community Living is now known as OneSky Community Resources. That was incorrect. The Penticton & District Community Resources Society is the group that is now known as OneSky Community Resources.