The B.C Government today announced a partnership with the District of Squamish and Squamish Helping Hands Society to provide 49 new temporary homes for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in the community.
“The need for safe, secure housing has never been more important,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “This partnership with the District of Squamish and Helping Hands Society will make sure people in need have a safe place to call their own during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.”
Located at Xwu’nekw Park on Loggers Lane between Victoria Street and Main Street, the development will consist of repurposed modular units that can be put in place within a few weeks. The building will include self-contained bedrooms and shared washrooms. Residents will be provided with two meals a day, delivered to their rooms to support social distancing. There will be at least two staff on site at all times who will offer supports to residents, such as access to addiction and mental-health referrals.
The temporary housing is expected to open by mid-May 2020 and will be in place until the end of October when Under One Roof, a new permanent shelter and housing project, is anticipated to open on Third Avenue. Under One Roof will provide 45 new spaces, including 15 units of low-barrier dormitory housing, 15 units of transitional housing and 15 affordable homes.
“In the face of this global pandemic, we must ensure that everyone in our community can safely distance themselves from others in order to protect themselves and the broader community, and help stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Karen Elliott, mayor, District of Squamish. “I am very grateful for the quick action of everyone involved to make this project happen. This project will ensure that there are no barriers for residents to access shelter and space to physically distance during COVID-19.”
Priority for this new temporary housing will be given to people who are living in the Budget Inn, which is set to be redeveloped, and to people who are experiencing homelessness in Squamish, including those staying at the temporary shelter at the Howe Sound Secondary school’s gymnasium. Once residents move into the temporary housing, the gym will no longer be used as a temporary shelter.
“We are incredibly grateful for the amazing work and leadership on this project that will offer critical support and service to our fellow citizens and our community, especially those more vulnerable to this virus,” said Maureen Mackell, executive director, Squamish Helping Hands. “This is a true example of what we can achieve when we come together as a community, so that everyone can be supported and protected, especially in the midst of the current health crisis.”
The Province is providing approximately $325,000 to lease the modular units from LandSea, as well as operating funding of more than $152,000. BC Housing will work with Helping Hands Society to develop the operating model. The district is providing the land for this project.
In addition to this new project, the Province has also secured a total of 18 rooms across two Squamish hotels that will be reserved for people who do not have a safe place to self-isolate during the pandemic. The locations of the hotels will remain private so staff can focus on helping people in need.
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