The need for additional supportive housing in Penticton is apparent, with the report to city council yesterday that stated The Rise on Nanaimo received 325 applications for its 56-units for low to moderate income individuals.
The apartment building, located at 285 Nanaimo Ave. W., opened to tenants on Nov. 1 thanks to the partnership between OneSky Community Resources, Catalyst Community Developments Society, BC Housing and the City of Penticton.
“We’re still receiving applications daily, and I think that’s pretty impressive because we really just advertised (the available units) during the month of September and then we just stopped because of the flood of applications,” said Ian Gerbandt, director of children, youth and family services with OneSky, during the committee of the whole on Dec. 3.
“The project just really reinforced the need for community for me. Hearing people talking about the importance of year-round housing for them, and having stability in their housing, I knew it was going to make a difference for people in making the month with their incomes.”
Gerbrandt said that a number of people that are “key to the economy” and earn moderate incomes in industries such as hospitality, health, manufacturing and agriculture can still struggle financially to make ends meet.
The project cost $12.7 million in total to complete. The supportive housing features a variety of units for families and individuals, ranging from $600 to $1,000 monthly.
“We’ve exceeded our expectations – we have a handful of students with Okanagan College where this is their very first home and they’re working in the hospitality industry at the same time they’re going to school,” said Gerbrandt. “At the other end of the spectrum, we have a couple in their 80’s who have been married for 62 years … and they’re the caring neighbours, the retirement home proved too slow for them. They missed having a kitchen and cooking their own meals.”
Tanya Behardien, executive director of OneSky, thanked the city for its memorandum of understanding (MOU) that was established with BC Housing to identify the land that The Rise on Nanaimo now occupies. She added that she hopes the city exercises this MOU in the spring to see if their are other pieces of land in Penticton that may be suitable for future supportive housing projects.
Mayor John Vassilaki asked if the organizations involved in this project would “concentrate more on young families and families with children” for future housing projects. Behardien acknowledged there is a need in that demographic, and that this project has provided housing to multiple families.
Coun. Judy Sentes thanked city planning manager Blake Laven for his efforts in forming the relationships between the city and the other organizations involved in this project. Coun. Julius Bloomfield added that with the upcoming budget deliberations, they could consider future housing projects like this one in the strategic planning session, and city staff could put together a report of land that may be suitable.
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