The opening of BC Housing’s supportive housing development at 2983 Drinkwater Rd., which was originally scheduled for this summer, has been postponed until this winter or the spring of 2022.
A statement from BC Housing said the delay of the 51-unit housing development is due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the wildfires in the province’s Interior, both of which impacted the delivery timelines of the modular units that will make up the facility.
The modular units for the project were barged to Vancouver Island last month and will be craned into place the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3.
“Once the modules are in place, the construction team will join them together to form the building structure, add the roof, install the siding, hook up the utilities and work on the landscaping,” the statement said.
The project is one of two supportive housing facilities that BC Housing is in the process of constructing in the Cowichan Valley for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Construction of the other 48-unit development, which will be located at 260 White Rd. in Duncan, is expected to get underway in the coming months.
But even when the two facilities with their combined 99 housing units are complete, they will not cover the demand in the region as the waiting list for the units currently has more than 270 people.
The statement from BC Housing said the 51 tenants for the development on Drinkwater Road will be selected closer to the facility’s opening date.
To select the tenants, BC Housing and the facility’s operator, Lookout Housing and Health Society, will collaborate with local service providers, including the Cowichan Housing Association which is operating the temporary cabin sites for homeless people currently in place in the region, to review applications from people who are on the waiting list for supportive housing.
“Every potential resident will be considered on an individual basis to ensure that the housing and services provided by the program match the support services that they need, such as life-skills training, employment assistance, and help with accessing a range of social and health care service,” BC Housing said.
“Residents of all supportive housing buildings, such as this one, pay $375 a month for rent if they are on social assistance or, if they are employed, 30 per cent of their income. Supportive housing has laundry equipment on site and residents will receive two daily meals, which is typically a cold breakfast and hot meal.”
There will also be staff on-site 24/7 to provide residents with supports.
“Residents will have access to mental health and wellness supports through Island Health to support their journey to wellness,” the statement said.
“Residents will be offered support services such as life skills training, employment assistance, and help with accessing social and health care services.”
BC Housing said there will be no time limits on how long residents can stay at the two housing developments when they are complete.
“This is considered permanent supportive housing, meaning there are no limits on how long a person can stay as long as they are abiding by the requirements and expectations set out by the non-profit provider,” the statement said.
“For some people, this may be their long-term home. For others, they may be able to eventually move to the private rental market or another form of housing.”
There are currently a total of 66 homeless people staying in individual sleeping cabins at the city-owned lot on St. Julien Street, a site on Government Street known as “The Mound,” and at the Ramada Hotel.
The funding from BC Housing for those temporary sites for the homeless, which have wrap-around supports, will be in place until March, 2022.