Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick said the proposed supportive housing project on McCurdy Road should be ‘paused’ until further notice. (Artist rendering)

Supportive housing first step to healing: BC Housing CEO

Shayne Ramsay explains changes to Rutland’s McCurdy development

Housing is the first step in the journey to healing for any marginalized population, BC Housing CEO Shayne Ramsay said during the Chamber of Commerce’s Okanagan College Series luncheon on Tuesday afternoon.

And, in Kelowna’s tight and expensive housing market, accommodations can be hard to come by.

Housing prices are up 32 per cent since 2014, rent is up more than 26 per cent and the city is well below the healthy vacancy rate of three per cent, according to Ramsay.

READ MORE: Rutland community rallies against McCurdy house

READ MORE: MLA urges a ‘pause’ to controversial Rutland supportive housing project

He went on to say the significant population growth in Kelowna has also put a lot of pressure on the existing housing stock.

Ramsay said since 2016, Kelowna has seen a 23 per cent increase, or nearly 300 people, experiencing homelessness. Foster care and group homes have also seen a significant boost, many of which are aging out when they turn 19 and in turn, face homelessness.

BC Housing projects, such as the controversial supportive housing development slated for McCurdy Road, are created to remedy this by providing safe and affordable housing for people facing a variety of circumstances, including homelessness, domestic violence and youth aging out of foster care and group homes.

“We will take a lot of responsibility for the lack of information and process around McCurdy,” Ramsay said.

READ MORE: Public forum fails to ease Rutland residents’ frustration over McCurdy house

READ MORE: Petition started in protest of Kelowna’s McCurdy Road supportive housing

Following a special City of Kelowna council meeting held on July 17, Mayor Colin Basran informed a packed council chamber that BC Housing and the B.C. Minister of Housing Selina Robinson have agreed to make the McCurdy Road house a facility that will not tolerate the use of drugs or alcohol on site.

The change to the operational model in McCurdy was possible due to the “range of other options in Kelowna,” Ramsay said.

“There is 10 other accessible supportive housing development,” he said—“accessible” being his choice word for facilities that allow for drugs and alcohol on site —also known as a “wet” facility.

Ramsay noted other significant changes to the operational model include additional staff in the form of in-house nursing staff seven days a week. The demand of the nurses’ time will be determined by monitoring the needs of the McCurdy residents, he added.

READ MORE: Drive-thru petition against McCurdy house garners thousands of signatures

READ MORE: UPDATE: special council meeting set for Wednesday, Basran in talks with province

And those health-care needs will likely be higher for those who have spent a greater amount of time living on the streets, he said.

“People will tell you when you are recovering from addictions, you will always be recovering from it.”

Low-barrier homes are important to many individual recovery journeys as addictions is a “one step forward, two steps back” process, Ramsay explained.

“It’s about getting the information and the results of our research out there,” he said.

Reviews are completed six months into any new operation and Ramsay said it works. Findings have shown significant improvements in residents including using fewer drugs, getting into detoxification programs and connecting with services.

“Bringing them inside, stabilizing their lives and giving them a meal allows that to happen,” he said. “And if you don’t do it, it’s really hard to connect with a person who is living in a doorway.

These are folks that live in our communities,” he said. “(Housing) provides the first step to allow them to heal.”

Another BC Housing project planned for McIntosh Road will come before council in August seeking a development permit.


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

BC Housing CEO Shayne Ramsay said supportive housing is the first step to healing for any individual with lived experience on the streets. (Caitlin Clow - Kelowna Capital News)

Just Posted

Lake Country human rights leader honoured at Vernon school

Alaina Podmorow, 22, was inducted into Mission Hill Elementary’s Hall of Fame

Warriors looking for Teddy, hoping for win

West Kelowna hosts their annual Teddy Bear Toss fundraiser Saturday night

WATCH: ‘Stubborn’ fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

The building, which lit up in flames around 2 a.m., was an infamous spot to Big White locals

Rockets drop second straight, conclude 6-game road trip Saturday in Moose Jaw

Kelowna fell short against the Regina Pats 4-3 Friday night

Warriors look to snap 4 game losing streak in Trail

West Kelowna takes on the Smoke Eaters Friday night

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

Frosty will have to pay rent to stay on Okanagan sidewalk next Christmas

Vernon Teach and Learn allowed to keep Frosty up, but will need a permit come January 1

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Conservation officers on the hunt for North Okanagan moose poachers

Officers execute search warrant Friday morning, investigation continues

UPDATE: Highway 1 reopens after vehicle incident near Boston Bar

Initial reports of a jack-knifed semi truck had closed both directions of the highway

Kootnekoff: Accommodating religious celebrations

Employers must be mindful that not everyone celebrates holidays which are days off

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Most Read