Residents of the new Crows Nest Lodge supportive modular housing project will start moving in at the end of the month.
The 36-unit lodge, built on municipal land next to the North Coast Transition Society, officially opened on Friday, March 8 with a press conference and tours.
Speaking at the event, Gitwilgyoots elder Murray Smith said the homes represent hope for at-risk and homeless people within the community.
“This building represents hope for a lot of people that come off the street,” Smith said. “This building is put up with love from all of you.”
Each self-contained unit includes a bathroom and kitchenette and two of the units were designed for people with disabilities. The building also features a main kitchen, two laundry rooms and what North Coast Transition Society executive director Christine White calls a “heat room.”
|One of the two units at the Crow’s Nest Lodge designed for people with disabilities. (Karissa Gall/The Northern View)|
White said the room can be set hotter than a sauna for bed bug prevention and extermination purposes.
“You can put pretty well anything in that,” she said.
Mayor Lee Brain said the tent city that was raised on the front lawn of city hall in November 2017 accelerated the work of the city, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, the North Coast Transition Society, the province and BC Housing in finding a solution.
“When the tent city popped up on city hall’s lawn it was very clear that we were in a dire situation,” Brain said. “This is probably the fastest thing I’ve ever seen in government ever in my life. It just shows that if you really put a priority to something and everyone aligns, it happens.”
Brain said he hopes the 1450 Park Ave. homes will be the beginning of the end of homelessness in Rupert.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter what socioeconomic status you are, you have to have a place to go and live for you to improve your life,” he said. “If you can’t go somewhere dry, if you can’t go somewhere every night to go to bed, it’s hard to get a job, it’s hard to do those things to get back into society.
“This is really going to start the process of the next stage of Prince Rupert. I don’t ever want to see anyone ever having to sleep on the street again and I’m hoping that this facility is the beginning of that.”
Rice said that with funding from the province, the North Coast Transition Society will provide around-the-clock staffing and support at Crow’s Nest.
“These homes are also a new beginning, a strong start on the journey to a new life,” Rice said. “To make sure it’s a strong start, all of our modular supportive homes, like the Crow’s Nest Lodge, have funding for 24/7 staffing and support.”
Supports will include meals, prepared in the main kitchen, as well as employment and skills training and health and wellness programs.
The project, funded by a provincial allocation of $6.9 million, brings the number of completed modular supportive homes built throughout the province to close to 1,000. More than 1,000 more are underway as part of the B.C. Rapid Response to Homelessness program.
According to White, they received more applications than they can accommodate — close to 70 people applied to be accepted into the lodge.