BC Housing expects construction of the supported adult housing complex at 988 Eighth St. to be complete in late March. The City of Courtenay issued a $7 million building permit in December.
The complex will contain 46 modular units that will house individuals struggling with homelessness. The John Howard Society of North Island will operate the facility and provide 24/7 services.
“This particular model of housing is meant to meet the needs of those who are chronically homeless,” said Natalie Meredith, who will manage the facility. “We will be prioritizing those who have been unable to maintain housing for longer than six months in the last three years, and who additionally are facing physical, mental health and substance use challenges. We will also need to consider the mix of residents and ensure capacity to meet these needs.”
Tenants have yet to be identified. BC Housing said potential residents will be considered on an individual basis to ensure housing and services match the support services they need, such as lifeskills training and employment assistance.
“We’re going to do a big recruitment, shortly, for staffing,” John Howard’s executive director Wendy Richardson said. “There will be quite a few jobs coming up.”
The society will conduct a survey to find a name for the facility.
The project has been criticized by some area residents, particularly those who live at the nearby Kiwanis Village for seniors. At a public hearing last year, several residents said drug activity would worse, considering the proximity of the Pidcock shelter and the Comox Valley Recovery Centre. But Courtenay council approved a zoning amendment to allow the homes.
•The John Howard Society is also operating a transitional housing facility for youth dubbed the Station, formerly Abbeyfield House, adjacent to the adult housing complex. Five youths have moved into the 10-bedroom complex, which is staffed seven days a week and has live-in caretakers.
“It’s going well,” Richardson said. “We’re building a healthy culture there by adding young people one at a time.”
Residents are 16-19 years (though some may be up to 24) who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
“It may be a young person who’s couch surfing, it could be somebody who’s coming out of care who doesn’t have anywhere to go and needs that extra transitional period. It’s young people who do not have stable housing.”
Residents develop a plan that includes school or work, or work readiness. They also learn lifeskills such as cooking, and how to be a good tenant.
“With some of these young people, their biological age and their emotional age may not match, so our goal is to support them to become healthy adults who can then move into market housing and be successful,” Richardson said. “During that transition period, young people in care age out and then there’s not much for them. Our goal is to partly cover that transitional period.”