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

Rolling with the punches: Abbotsford Mission Boxing Club finds new home

Club moves from Mission to Maclure Road in Abbotsford

Abbotsford Regional Hospital’s ER expansion still in the works

Deadline for construction proposals recently closes, but construction timeline unknown

Figures reveal spike in highway traffic jams between Abbotsford and Langley

Nearly one in 20 westbound vehicles between Abbotsford and Langley clocked at under 60 km/h

August agony: unlucky eighth month is busiest for Fraser Valley motorists

Serious slowdowns on Highway 1 are most common in August

Taser takedown in Chilliwack complex after incident gets violent

Male suspect became agitated under questioning and repeatedly punched an officer

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

RCMP investigate two shootings in Surrey

Incidents happened in Whalley, Newton

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

How much do you know about the moon?

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, see how well you know space

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Former Fernie Ghostrider re-signs with Vancouver Canucks

Josh Teves has signed a two-year contract with the NHL team

Most Read