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New supportive homes slated for Prince Rupert

The Government of B.C., the City of Prince Rupert and North Coast Transition Society (NCTS) have partnered to purchase a building that will provide new, permanent, supportive housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

“Homelessness affects not only those experiencing it, but also the community as a whole,” said Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast, in a news release. “We’re excited to work with our partners to convert this building into new supportive homes for people in Prince Rupert. These homes with supports will help people experiencing homelessness to regroup and recover, and the benefits will extend into the community.”

The province will provide $11.8 million to the project through the Supportive Housing Fund, as well as an annual operating subsidy of $1.2 million.

Victoria, through BC Housing, has purchased the former Raffles Inn motel at 1080 Third Ave. and will convert it into a permanent supportive housing building with up to 48 units, each with private washrooms, showers and mini kitchens. The building will include a commercial kitchen, dining and lounge areas, storage and amenity space, laundry and a medical examination room.

Once complete, this building will have the capacity for a 35-space temporary shelter or an extreme weather response shelter.

“These new units of supportive housing will offer 24/7 support to our community’s most vulnerable, including achieving economies of scale by integrating a temporary shelter as well,” said Lee Brain, mayor, Prince Rupert. “When the first supportive units opened at Crow’s Nest, they were immediately full, proving that the need exceeded the supply of available units. We are happy to be working with the Province to make this happen in Prince Rupert.”

NCTS will operate the supportive housing building and will provide residents with 24/7 on-site staff and support services, including meal programs, life and employment skills training, health and wellness support services and opportunities for volunteer work.

“We are very excited about this opportunity and much needed project that serve the needs of the most marginalized members of our community,” said Christine White, executive director, NCTS. “The people of Prince Rupert have been so generous and supportive of those living on the streets. We know that this will benefit the community as having a home and a safe place is a start for life-changing opportunities. BC Housing and MLA Jennifer Rice have been a huge support in this project, in addition to all our other community partners. We look forward to moving on with the project.”

NCTS operates a 35-space temporary shelter at Fisherman’s Hall at 869 Fraser St. Once renovations at 1080 3rd Ave. are complete, all guests from the shelter will be transitioned to the new supportive housing.

Construction will begin in fall 2020. The shelter portion of the building is expected to open in early 2021, with the supportive homes ready by fall 2021.

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