Summerland working on multiple supportive housing projects, hoping to see funding from BC Housing

More subsidized housing

Casey Richardson

Summerland council has sent off letters of support to BC Housing for two new subsidized housing projects, hoping to help push forward developments to address the evident need in the community.

“It’s not up to us to build houses, but certainly to facilitate and to be part of these partnerships in order to get these things on the books and actually happening,” Toni Boot, mayor of Summerland said.

The District heard from both the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre and Liberty Contracting with their proposed subsidized housing projects on Monday, hoping to see the council support their developments.

“In 2017, they did a study on housing here in Summerland and it identified that there was nothing here for us,” Linda Van Alphen, director for the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Society said.

“We also keep statistics with the food bank and the resources centre which actually tell us how many people we’ve got on the street and how many people are looking for housing.

“The situation that couples, families, people are in, we know that there’s a need and we also know that rentals should be 30 per cent of your income and most rentals are much higher than that.”

The Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre has been working out of the Summerland United Church basement for the past eight years, and while they’re grateful for the location, they’re starting to outgrow the space.

“When this piece of property came up for sale, we just jumped on it and we actually just finished the transfer of the property yesterday (Wednesday)," Van Alphen said.

The plan is to build a new centre at 13212 Henry Avenue, which would include 12 different units, spanning a variety of needs in the community and the main floor for their food bank and resource centre.

“We’re just excited, the application is going to go in and we just cross our fingers and hope we put in a good application. Hopefully, BC housing thinks it has merit.”

The group still has a long road ahead, however, needing to raise an estimated $1.5 million of their own funds to pay for the resource centre floor.

The other project comes from Liberty Contracting, looking to expand on the Legion Village development and add another 40 to 60 homes, but they won’t be applying for BC funding just yet as the project is in very early stages.

“In Summerland, I won’t say it’s extra important, but it does fill an identified gap and that is with affordable seniors housing...This doesn’t simply provide a house or accommodation, it provides a home,” Boot added.

And while subsidized housing can sometimes bring stigmatization from the community, Van Alphen is confident as these housing projects focus on getting families settled.

“I don’t see that the stigma will come in and it’s not considered to be transitional housing which is where some of the places in Penticton have run into problems,” she said. “These are going to be beautiful apartments. It’s going to be something for somebody who needs secure housing for long lengths of time for them and their children.”

Boot added that this need is important for the whole community,

“They are providing what is has been identified in the community as a critical need and what is identified in the community as a critical need, is a critical need for the whole community because the whole community has identified it. And if you’re going to say we need more affordable housing, then the understanding of what that means, and potentially, the stigma that comes along with it is something we as a community have to work through if necessary.”

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