Shane Williams, CEO of the Lookout Society, speaks at the opening event for Abbotsford’s first modular project on Riverside Road. Dustin Godfrey/Abbotsford News

Homelessness

Abbotsford modular housing named for shelter patron who died of overdose

Housing expected to open in the next two or three weeks on Riverside Road

It was an emotional day for the Starnes family, Friday, as the late Cole Starnes was honoured with his name on a soon-to-open housing project in Abbotsford.

Starnes tragically died of an overdose at the Lookout Society’s Riverside Shelter at 25 years old in February 2018. When shelter patrons were asked for input on naming the modular housing project, opening shortly on the same site, about 70 per cent of the input included references to the young man, according to Lookout Society executive director Shayne Williams.

RELATED: Modular housing will visibly reduce Abbotsford homelessness: advocate

“Cole’s loss was felt very acutely by the Lookout Society, our staff members and the guests that stay here, and when we were looking for a name for this residence, we did do a lot of conversations directly with the tenants and had a little drop box for suggestions,” Williams said.

“Despite the tragedy, somebody who had such a profound impact and left us far too early, we wanted to commemorate the impact that he’s had on our organization and our community. Every loss is a bad loss when it comes to the fentanyl/opioid crisis in this province.”

Construction is still ongoing at the housing project, which Williams estimated would be seeing people moving in in two or three weeks, eventually housing upwards of 40 people.

RELATED: Housing, camping big election issues for Abbotsford homeless

Williams said the housing project, being transitional housing, generally should see two-year tenancies, with the Lookout Society providing wrap-around services to help tenants overcome barriers to housing.

“Everybody’s who’s here will be individually case-planned, so services will vary on individuals coming in. What do they need, what are they looking at? It could be anywhere from money management and poverty, it could be reconnecting to family, community, culture, heritage. It could be mental health, addictions challenges,” Williams said, adding that the two-year stay isn’t a hard line.

When the tenants are getting ready to move out of the transitional housing, Williams said the project will help with the transition into new housing as well, helping people to connect to the services they need to maintain housing in the long term.

With the first tenants moving in now, that would mean in two years’ time, there’s likely to be some residents expecting to move out. Mayor Henry Braun said, with numerous rental projects approved in recent years, he expects to see the city’s vacancy rate open up by the time some of those tenants are moving out.

“We are moving heaven and earth, almost, to get as many projects approved as we can in the marketplace for rental housing,” Braun said, adding that the city is also, in the meantime, advocating for further supportive housing from the provincial government.

“We’re just making a dent. We need much more housing, and we will do whatever we can as a city to provide land, within our jurisdiction and ask the provincial government – I had an exchange with the minister just last week, because we need more housing.”

Find more of our coverage on Homelessness here.

Report an error or send us your tips, photos and video.

Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

Send Dustin an email.
Like the Abbotsford News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

VIDEO & SLIDESHOW: Mouat Mudder returns to Abbotsford

Second annual obstacle course race raises funds for Abbotsford Fire Department Charitable Society

RCMP target speeders between Abbotsford and Surrey in month-long blitz

Officers throughout the province launch Swoop campaign

Abbotsford working to ease building permit backlog: mayor

Mayor Henry Braun said tripling of applications has slowed down approval process

Spring/summer season of exhibits opens at The Reach

Opening reception on Thursday, May 23 at Abbotsford gallery-museum

Two week lock down lifted for Kent Institution

A search at the prison found nearly 26 grams of hashish and a cellphone

Kelowna toddler suffers cracked skull after fall from balcony

Neighbour who found the two-year-old boy said he has a bump the size of a golf ball on his head

RCMP probe if teen was intentionally hit with ski pole by mystery skier on B.C. mountain

The incident happened on March 20 on Grouse Mountain. Police are urging witnesses to come forward

Support growing for orphaned Okanagan child after father dies in highway crash

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

Baby boom seniors putting pressure on B.C. long-term care: report

B.C. leads Canada in growth of dementia, dependence on care

Pipeline protester chimes in on Justin Trudeau’s B.C. fundraising speech

The government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion

Coquitlam RCMP release video in search for witness to crash that killed girl, 13

Witness is described as a slim Asian man with short, black hair, no facial hair and wearing glasses

Four rescued from Golden Ears mountain

Hikers from Surrey started out for Evans Peak at 6 p.m.

Canada stripping citizenship from Chinese man over alleged marriage fraud

The move comes amid severely strained relations between Ottawa and Beijing

Most Read