Supportive housing opens

Burdock House, located at 594 Winnipeg Street, is a 62-unit permanent modular project run by the Ask Wellness Society which will offer around-the-clock care and support services like counselling, on-site staff, meal programs, life and employment skills training and a medical centre. 

“These new permanent homes with wraparound supports will help people heal from the experience of being homeless and give them a stable foundation on which to build a better life,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. 

The building also includes communal space for counselling and community meetings, a multi-purpose room, commercial kitchen and dining room. Outdoor amenities include a gazebo, bike and cart storage, and a pet-friendly running area.

Units vary in size and some are tailored to be accessible for those with disabilities, but each has its own bathroom and small kitchenette area. 

The project cost the province $12.5 million for the land and construction, and they will be providing an operating subsidy annually. 

The City of Penticton also contributed by way of $288,496 in waived development cost charges. 

"Access to supportive housing for those in need supports council’s priority of building a safe, secure and healthy community. The opening of Burdock House, combined with the amenities, services and staff resources it provides its residents, will go a long way in providing a quality solution to Penticton’s housing challenge," said mayor John Vassilaki. 

The house will come with rules and residents who don't comply may run the risk of losing their spot in the building. 

"Some will not make this journey. We know this having operated hundreds and hundreds of supportive housing units across three communities," said Ask Wellness executive director Bob Hughes. "Drug dealing, theft and violence will not be tolerated. We believe in good neighbours, and being good neighbours ... they are now part of this neighbourhood and their actions within the neighbourhood and the building is what counts."

The new residents, some of whom already moved in in early October, were chosen after applying through BC Housing and undergoing a standardized interview known as a Vulnerability Assessment Tool (VAT).

"We have selected the 62 residents that are living here to balance needs so that we, as staff, at Ask Wellness are able to provide the supports that the folk need here to be successful, happy, healthy and whole as best they're able and as best we're able," said Kenneth Scott, coordinator for Burdock House. 

He added that there is still a need for more housing in the community, citing "dozens" left on the BC Housing waiting lists. 

The name "Burdock House" was chosen by Ask Wellness Society to represent a native plant that grows in the area, traditionally known for healing benefits. 

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