The proposed 52-unit supportive housing for 660/670 Old Hope Princeton Way remains just that — a proposal.
Still, BC Housing coordinated a day of public information sessions to present and discuss the housing model they are envisioning for the community. Those took place last Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Hope Legion, and both the afternoon and evening sessions were well attended.
BC Housing representatives said the sessions were a way to share their vision with the community, so that it isn’t a surprise when the issue comes to the Hope District council table. There is no set date for bylaw amendments yet, they told The Standard, other than it would be soon.
There is some confusion around the project, they noted, perhaps because of an affordable housing project that’s already underway just down the road from the proposed supportive housing, operated through Anhart Homes. There is also some confusion on the differences between supportive housing and shelters.
The major differences between shelters and supportive housing were outlined in one of several information boards set up around the hall.
Where shelters are first-come, first-served, supportive housing has an assessment process for applicants. Shelters have temporary beds, maybe some meals, shared sleeping spaces, and are free.
At a supportive housing unit, tenants pay rent and receive a self-contained studio suite, one hot meal a day plus their own private kitchenette, privacy and 24/7 access to staff and support services online.
BC Housing was collecting feedback from attendees, who were free to mill about and discuss concerns with their staff and their partner group, the Hope and Area Transition Society (HATS). The feedback is going to be included in a report to the district in the future.
While BC Housing and HATS worked together on the proposal, the future of the housing project rests almost entirely on the decision of Hope council, as rezoning will be needed. If approved, BC Housing hopes to begin construction by this upcoming spring.
The housing would not replace the House of Hope shelter, which provides 20 beds year round to the area’s homeless population. It is consistently full and has to turn people away regularly. It is estimated there are more then 50 people without homes living in Hope. BC Housing confirmed with the Standard that the shelter will continue to operate, regardless of whether the housing project goes ahead.
Some of the services and resources residents of the supporting housing would have immediate access to include outreach workers, wellness checks, life skills training, employment assistance, counselling, support groups, and addiction recovery services.
The proposal says that preference will be given to those already living in Hope.
At Monday’s council meeting, two councillors noted that they are already hearing from residents with comments and concerns about the project. Councillors Scott Medlock and Heather Stewin both mentioned in their reports that they are open to hearing from more people as the project moves toward council approval, which is slated for sometime in January.