The province, through BC Housing, has purchased the National Hotel on First Avenue, with the intention to renovate the building to provide 27 homes with wraparound supports.
“Everyone deserves a place to call home,” said David Eby, minister responsible for housing, in a news release. “We are working hard to make sure people experiencing homelessness in Prince George have a safe and secure place to stay. When vulnerable people have access to housing and shelter with supports, they can stabilize and rebuild their lives, and the whole community benefits.”
The homes are expected to be ready in early 2022. BC Housing will select an experienced non-profit service provider to manage the building with staff on site 24-7 to provide supports, including meal programs, life and employment skills training, as well as health and wellness support services.
Since summer 2019, BC Housing has leased 18 units at the hotel and operated them as temporary supportive housing. The purchase ensures much-needed supportive homes permanently remain in the community.
The renovations will improve the operator’s ability operate the building as supportive housing and provide wraparound supports for residents. The renovations will include new office space for outreach and service providers to help them provide supports to clients and residents, as well as newly refurbished administrative space on the ground floor.
During the renovations, existing residents will be able to remain in their homes. As renovations near completion, housing applications will be reviewed and tenants will be selected for the remaining unoccupied rooms.
BC Housing has informed existing hotel tenants, immediate neighbours and select stakeholders of the purchase and intended use of the hotel. Rezoning is not needed given the site is zoned appropriately.
In addition, the province is opening a new 30-bed temporary shelter in the community at 1151 Second Ave. Operated by the Prince George Native Friendship Centre, the shelter is scheduled to open in January 2021 and will be open 24-7 during the winter months, providing a warm, safe and physically distanced place to stay for more people.
“The pathways into homelessness are complex. Housing solves homelessness; a simple answer to a complex problem, but no less true for its simplicity,” said Barb Ward-Burkitt, executive director, Prince George Native Friendship Centre. “The Prince George Native Friendship Centre is committed to providing a diverse range of services and supports through a trauma informed and cultural approach as inclusiveness, friendship and kinship is the way to building strong relationships, understandings and safety. We are excited to open the new shelter to complement and support other 24-hour adult housing facilities in Prince George.”
Guests will receive daily meals and access to support services.
* Each resident will pay monthly rent at the social assistance level of $375 per month.
* The province is providing approximately $492,000 to operate the shelter until June 30, 2021.
* These 30 new shelter beds are in addition to the existing BC Housing-funded shelter spaces and other shelter spaces in Prince George.