The City of Abbotsford has signed a memorandum of understanding with the province, through BC Housing, for the construction of a permanent supportive-housing building with 40 to 50 homes at the site of the current Riverside Shelter.
A press release states that BC Housing will apply to rezone city lots at 1640 and 1670 Riverside Rd. to construct “self-contained modular studio homes.”
If approved, construction will begin this fall and be complete by summer 2023, the release states.
Lookout Health and Housing Society, which currently operates the Colnes Starnes Residence on the property, would operate the new building and provide residents with support services, including daily meals; life-skills training; employment assistance and counselling; physical and mental-health resources; and access to addiction treatment and recovery services.
The press release indicates that BC Housing and the city are working on moving the 40-bed temporary shelter building to another location in Abbotsford which has yet to be determined.
BC Housing also installed a sanitation trailer, operated by Lookout, with washrooms and showers near the current Riverside/Lonzo Road encampment in November 2021 to support people sleeping outdoors.
The release states that, since 2017, through investments by the province, 406 new homes have opened or are underway in Abbotsford.
Lookout CEO Shayne Williams said the organization is “beyond excited” about the Riverside Road project.
“We are proud to work alongside BC Housing and the City of Abbotsford on this, knowing the tremendous impact that this will have on the residents and community alike,” he said.
Abbotsford-Mission MLA Pam Alexis and Mayor Henry Braun also applauded the project and the partnership between the province and the city to provide support services for those who are unhoused.
“Having a memorandum of understanding isn’t just about one project – it’s a long-term commitment that we hope will help those who are at risk and experiencing homelessness,” Braun said.
Alexis said: “Our government is working hard to bring people living outside indoors where they can access the supports they need to stabilize their lives … This is one of the many steps our government is taking to break the cycle of homelessness, and I am excited to see it move forward.”
Last month, BC Housing and the city announced plans to offer eight complex-care housing spaces out of the former Red Lion Inn and Suites on Pauline Street. The building was purchased by the province in June 2021 to provide temporary shelter space, with plans to redevelop the hotel and two adjacent lots into permanent supportive housing with an adjoined shelter.
Public engagement updates and details about the Riverside Road project can be found at letstalkhousingbc.ca/Abbotsford.