It’s a happy occasion for supportive housing advocates in Powell River.

The ribbon is being cut tomorrow afternoon for a long-awaited, three-storey supportive housing complex at the intersection of Joyce Avenue and Harvie Avenue.

BC Housing is leasing the land from the Powell River Regional Hospital District, which paved the way for 44 self-contained studio homes with supports.

The housing will be operated by PREP Community Programs, in partnership with Life Cycle Housing Society, which have 50 years of combined experience in Powell River.

They’ll oversee property management, operations management, and tenant selection.
Staff will be on-site 24/7 for support.

PREP Society homeless outreach worker Jacqui Patterson said this is huge for Powell River’s growing homeless population.

“There’s a bigger homeless population in Powell River than was first initially thought,” Patterson said. “When we opened the shelter in November last year, we saw people come out of the woodwork to use the shelter. From there, we determined the need for supportive housing.”

Patterson said the people who will be staying at the facility are “street homeless.”

“So they’re camping, couch surfing… no homes.”

Patterson said there were 80 applications for the supportive housing being provided.
The units will include shared amenity space, such as a commercial kitchen for learning healthy cooking and other culinary life-skills, as well as laundry facilities.

Each unit will have a private bathroom and in-suite kitchen.

Residents will have access to 24/7 support services, including access to employment and other life-skills training, and health and wellness services.

Patterson said the people being housed are “so grateful, so thankful” for the new building, adding that the reception from the community has been “pretty good.”

“We had an information session for the neighbourhood last week, and we were able to answer questions and address people’s concerns.”

Patterson said the hope is that having a warm, safe place to lay their heads will help the homeless get back on track.

“When you’re not able to feel safe when you’re sleeping, it’s basically survival. Your biggest focus is surviving and making sure that no one’s taking your stuff, no one’s harming you, wildlife is a big concern, so having a place to sleep where they can lock their doors, their belongings are safe, they’re safe, will hopefully enable them to work on other areas of their life and become more connected to other services in town.”