The first residents of BC Housing’s new supportive housing development on Paddle Road, the first facility of its kind in the region, are expected to begin moving in this week.
The project, which saw delays during the COVID-19 pandemic, is intended for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness in North Cowichan.
The facility, called Sq’umul’ Shelh Lelum’, is a four-storey wood-frame structure with 52 individual studio suites, each with their own washroom and kitchenette.
The building also has a commercial kitchen, dining and lounge areas, storage, laundry, and a medical room.
The housing will be operated by Lookout Housing and Health Society, which provides supportive housing and community services to people experiencing homelessness.
The province, through BC Housing, invested approximately $13.7 million in the project through the Building BC: Supportive Housing Fund, and will provide an annual operating subsidy of approximately $1.2 million.
“I’m pleased to see these new homes open as I know they will make a significant difference for people experiencing homelessness in North Cowichan,” said Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan, who attended a tour of the facility on April 22.
“Many thanks to the Municipality of North Cowichan and Lookout Housing and Health Society for supporting our community and working with the province to develop solutions that support people in need.”
The project is one of two supportive housing facilities that BC Housing is constructing in the Cowichan Valley for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
The two facilities are part of a commitment between the province, through BC Housing, the Municipality of North Cowichan and the City of Duncan to build 100 supportive homes in the region.
Construction of the other 48-unit development, which will be located at 260 White Rd. in Duncan, is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
“This housing is very much needed in North Cowichan, and I am pleased to know 52 people will now have a safe, secure, supported and permanent roof over their heads,” said North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring.
“I have long been a proponent of housing solutions with wraparound services, especially for our most vulnerable residents. I want to thank the province for their assistance in building this facility because we’re not equipped to do it ourselves. ”
Lookout Housing and Health Society, an experienced non-profit housing operator, will provide residents with on-site staff and support services, including meal programs, life and employment skills training, health and wellness support services, and opportunities for volunteer work.
“The commitment that the province, the District of North Cowichan and the City of Duncan have shown in developing these homes for the community has been nothing less than inspiring,” says Shayne Williams, CEO of Lookout Housing and Health Society.
“Lookout is honoured to be able to support these residents who have been waiting for a permanent home in the Cowichan Valley. Thanks to the efforts of the community, this building will be here for a long time.”