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New supportive homes now open in Smithers

Forest Minister Doug Donaldson
Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson

Dozens of people experiencing homelessness are about to have access to safe and secure homes with the opening of Goodacre Place, a 24-unit supportive housing project that also includes space for emergency short-term beds.

“We have people in the community that have been living day-to-day without the security and the source of strength that a home provides,” said Doug Donaldson, MLA for Stikine, in a news release. “Through our partnership with the Town of Smithers, I am thrilled that is about to change for people who have been experiencing homelessness – people who will now have the dignity of a roof, a door, a bed, a washroom, a kitchen and the support services they need.”

The new modular apartment building at 3896 Railway Ave. will be ready to welcome residents in March. It includes two accessible units on the ground floor for people with disabilities. The new homes will be available to people currently using space at a shelter on Broadway Avenue.

“Goodacre Place represents the realization of a long-held community vision, and I want to congratulate the partner organizations whose hard work made these 24 new homes possible,” said Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach. “Ensuring our most vulnerable residents have safe, stable, affordable housing is a step forward for our whole community.”

The housing will be operated by the Smithers Community Services Association, an experienced non-profit housing operator since 1973. It provides services for people with developmental disabilities, parenting programs, youth programs, public transit systems and family housing in the community.

“Smithers Community Services Association is pleased to be part of this landmark project, first envisioned by the Smithers Action Group over a decade ago,” said Cathryn Olmstead, executive director, Smithers Community Services Association. “We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of community support and encouragement, and are committed to ensuring this project will contribute to the quality of life of all members of the community.”

Like other supportive housing developments under the Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program, the project offers residents around-the-clock services, including meal programs, life and employment skills training, health and wellness support services, and opportunities for volunteer work.

The new homes were built by manufacturer Nomodic Modular Structures and bring the number of completed modular supportive homes built throughout the province to more than 800. A further 1,200 are underway as part of the Building BC: Rapid Response to Homelessness program, which will deliver more than 2,000 modular supportive homes in 22 communities.

Two of the units at Goodacre Place will be large enough to accommodate multiple short-term stay beds for families and individuals in need of emergency housing.

* The building is named in memory of former Town of Smithers councillor Bill Goodacre. Goodacre was born and raised in Smithers and contributed 12 years to the Smithers Community Services Association board at different times in the organizations’ development.

* The B.C. government provided capital funding of $6.1 million and will provide an annual operating and support service subsidy for Goodacre Place.

* The Town of Smithers contributed $250,000 for site remediation and $149,800 in land equity.

* Residents will be charged a monthly rental rate of $375, which is the social assistance shelter allowance provided by the Province to people experiencing homelessness.