New housing for Kelownas homeless population opening this week

A 46-unit supportive housing project will open its doors to the homeless next week in Kelowna. 

"These homes will help get people indoors and, just as important, into a supportive environment where they will have the services they need to rebuild their lives and prepare to move on to more permanent housing," Selina Robinson, minister of municipal affairs and housing, said during a tour of the facility on Wednesday.

"This benefits everyone in Kelowna. By addressing homelessness, we're working to raise the quality of life of everyone in our communities."

Hearthstone, located on Commerce Avenue, is a three-storey, modular-constructed building. Each unit is 341 square feet and has its own kitchen and bathroom. Five of the units are wheelchair accessible.

The building features a communal kitchen, dining area, lounge with access to an outdoor deck, a secured entry and a medical room.

The John Howard Society will operate the building and provide residents with access to round-the clock, on-site staff and support services, including meal programs, life and employment skills training, health and wellness support services, and opportunities for volunteer work.

The temporary supportive housing project will be in operation for up to four years, allowing residents the opportunity to transition to more permanent housing.

"I have been able to meet several of the people that will be moving in here. I have shown them photos, which has resulted in more tears then I can count," said building manager Dani Moretto.

"The change in people once they have a stable place to live in is dramatic, and I never get tired of seeing it," Moretto added. 

Kelowna’s homeless population will have another place to stay warm as we head into the winter months with the opening of Hearthstone.

Hearthstone is a 46-unit supportive housing project with 24/7 support services located at 1642 Commerce Ave. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing says that it will be opening this week.

"We are really happy to see Hearthstone open. It's an important step toward creating a larger inventory of supported housing in Kelowna and keeps us on the path to fulfilling our Journey Home strategy," said Colin Basran, mayor, City of Kelowna. "We appreciate the investment BC Housing is making in our community and helping us address our need for more housing for those who are most vulnerable in our city."

Hearstone was approved by Kelowna’s City Council back in April after the original plan was revised to be more aesthetically appropriate.

Hearthstone is a three-storey, modular-constructed building. Each unit is 31.7 square metres and has its own kitchen and bathroom. Five of the units are wheelchair accessible. The building features a communal kitchen, dining area, lounge with access to an outdoor deck, a secured entry and a medical room. The site has a dog run and storage for residents' possessions.

The John Howard Society will operate the building and provide residents with access to around-the clock on-site staff and support services including meal programs, life and employment skills training, health and wellness support services, and opportunities for volunteer work.

"We are thrilled to add Hearthstone to our continuum of housing," said Gaelene Askeland, executive director, John Howard Society of Central and South Okanagan. "This new modular building will provide a safe, caring, stable environment for vulnerable women and men who have been living without homes in Kelowna."

Construction of the subsidized housing project was originally set to begin in December 2017, but after nearby business owners raised some concerns over the proposed plans, it was deferred and brought back to council after being revised.

The Province is investing $8 million in capital and construction costs for the 1642 Commerce Ave. building, and will provide an annual operating subsidy. The temporary supportive housing project will be in operation for up to four years.