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73 new housing spaces coming for those living rough in Chilliwack

New spaces at 2 facilities in Chilliwack on the way to quickly house people living in encampments
Dignitaries in the parking lot of the old Travelodge Hotel announcing 73 new housing spaces for those living in encampments or shelters in Chilliwack . (Stefan Luciani/ Chilliwack Progress)

Not every community is as welcoming as Chilliwack when it comes to providing housing supports for those living rough.

More than 70 temporary housing units at two separate facilities will be opening soon in Chilliwack to quickly house people who have been living in homeless encampments and on the street.

Both Chilliwack MLAs joined Scott Gaglardi of Ruth and Naomi’s Mission, Chuck Puchmayr of the Lookout Housing and Health Society, and Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove, and others at the Travelodge Hotel on Monday (April 15) to announce the 73 new housing spaces funded through the Province’s Homeless Encampment Action Response Temporary Housing (HEARTH) program.

Puchmayr said the “journey to wellness” for those experiencing homelessness can be both complicated and difficult, and singled out Chilliwack for being supportive.

“Communities push back against facilities and initiatives like this,” Lookout president Chuck Puchmayr said. “I really need to thank City of Chilliwack for embracing this and working with us, BC Housing and Fraser Health for providing the opportunity to provide these critical, life-saving interventions.”

He said the goal at the Chilliwack Wellness Centre is to support people to “make the connections they need to reach the goals they pursue.”

Work is almost done on the renovations to add 30 new shelter beds to the Wellness Centre at 45951 Trethewey Ave. at a cost of $612,000. The spaces will be open in a few weeks.

Construction on the $4-million, 43-unit modular facility at 45466 Yale Rd., the old Travelodge, is expected to start this summer with completion in fall 2024.

“Access to housing and supports is life-changing for many people, especially those experiencing homelessness,” said Dan Coulter, MLA for Chilliwack. “When vulnerable people are taken care of, the community benefits as a whole.”

The 30-bed shelter in the wellness centre will be run by Lookout staff with laundry, washrooms, shower facilities, daily meals and snacks provided. The resource centre will provide residents with referrals, case planning, medication management, life-skills training and activities.

The site will operate for three years while BC Housing and the city explore permanent housing solutions. The wellness centre already operates as a daytime drop-in centre for anyone seeking a safe and warm space, and a place to connect with social supports and resources.

The self-contained modular units at 45466 Yale Rd., located on the same site as the Travelodge Hotel and the Oasis Men’s Shelter, will be prioritized for older adults living in shelters or experiencing homelessness. This interim housing will be built on an underutilized parking lot of the hotel, which the province, through BC Housing’s Provincial Rental Housing Corporation, bought in 2021 for use as supportive housing.

Ruth and Naomi’s Mission, operators of the hotel, will also operate the HEARTH site. Residents will have access to daily meals, a common dining area, laundry, washroom and shower facilities, and a space for community programming.

“Community partners are so important in the delivery of these housing supports and services,” said Kelli Paddon, MLA for Chilliwack-Kent. “When people work together to address homelessness challenges, we increase safety and security, and everyone benefits from a more supportive and inclusive community. With these temporary housing units, we’ll help bring more people indoors while providing them the supports they need.”

The temporary units will increase shelter options available to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in the community, while the province, through BC Housing, and community partners work to bring other temporary and permanent supportive housing to Chilliwack.

These two projects are part of a $19-billion housing investment by the B.C. government. Since 2017, the province has nearly 78,000 homes that have been delivered or are underway, including more than 470 homes in Chilliwack.

Chilliwack continues push for more housing and supports for the “most vulnerable,” said Mayor Ken Popove.

“We are very supportive of the Housing First strategy where you put a roof over someone’s head, and then you apply wraparound supports.”

“The Wellness Centre is a critical piece of our community safety plan in Chilliwack and we are grateful for BC Housing’s support of this culturally safe, trauma-informed space with wraparound supports to improve the health, safety and well-being of individuals experiencing homelessness.”

Scott Gaglardi, executive director, Ruth and Naomi’s Mission showed gratitude for the support from the city, province and BC Housing.

“We are thankful for their ongoing commitment to support some of our most vulnerable, and the partnership we share. This investment will provide shelter opportunities for older adults where they can receive needed support and connect with other relevant services.”

READ MORE: 3 years secured for The Wellness Centre

Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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