The modular housing project on Riverside Road, expected to house upwards of 40 people, is slated to open for mid-April. Service provider Jesse Wegenast says he’s excited to see the project come online, as it will target specifically those living in shelters and on the streets. Dustin Godfrey/Abbotsford News

Homelessness

Modular project will visibly reduce Abbotsford homelessness: advocate

Jesse Wegenast says project will have ‘single greatest’ impact on local homelessness to date

A low-barrier housing project, expected to be finished in mid-April, will make “the single biggest dent in homelessness of any project” in Abbotsford to date, one service provider says.

Pastor Jesse Wegenast, harm reduction service co-ordinator with The 5 and 2 Ministries, says he’s exceptionally optimistic about the upcoming modular housing project on Riverside Road at the site of the Lookout Society shelter.

“The modulars are an exciting project. I’m actually more excited about the modulars as a project than I have been about anything for a long time, regarding the overall state of homelessness in our city,” Wegenast said.

“It’s going to give people the dignity of having their own space for the first time in a long time, and I think Lookout is the right organization to do it.”

RELATED: Modular units start arriving at Riverside site

RELATED: Operator, patrons see success at B.C.’s only 50+ shelter in Abbotsford

Because the housing project will be pulling upwards of 40 people specifically off the streets and out of shelters, Wegenast added that it will be a big relief for local shelters. That includes a shelter run by him, a 15-bed seniors winter shelter that will see six of his regular clients moving out of there and into a home.

“Those shelter beds will be free the day after they move in,” Wegenast said. “If you were to talk to the people at the Salvation Army or talking to the people at the Lookout, they get calls daily asking for shelter beds, and 90 per cent of the time the answer is no because they’re full.

“We’re always full, every night. We’re full every night. But the day after, or a week after the mods open up, we’ll have five or six beds available because five or six people who are in our shelter are now in housing, and we can bring other people in the shelter.”

That, Wegenast said, will be a major relief for him and other shelter providers, and will “make a dramatic change in the short term.”

“Long term? We’ll see. But housing projects are good projects.”

RELATED: Housing, camping big election issues for Abbotsford homeless

Wegenast notes that between Hearthstone, the modular project at Riverside and another upcoming project on Peardonville Road, at the Elizabeth Fry Society, there is progress being made on the social-housing front.

To add to that, he pointed to a slew of purpose-built rentals approved by city hall over the past several years, which could help to open up vacancy in the city and alleviate the rental crisis.

With the modular project being more low-barrier and coming with less strict rules around occupancy, Wegenast said the new project may be good for some whom Hearthstone doesn’t work for.

“Hearthstone, to this point, has been the only game in town. So when you’re the only game in town, you can be expected to be all the things to all people, which is an unfair and unrealistic expectation,” Wegenast said.

“So I suspect, especially with the Lookout modular housing when that comes online, it’ll help the broader community understand the different needs of the different people who are appropriate for the different places.”

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