Bridges Supportive Housing has opened in West Quesnel, within walking distance of downtown. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Bridges Supportive Housing has opened in West Quesnel, within walking distance of downtown. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Supportive housing now open in West Quesnel

Bridges Supportive Housing accepted its first tenants in late October

Having a space to call your own is something people can take for granted, but for residents at the new Bridges Supportive Housing, even the most basic of necessities is a relief to have.

“Just an ordinary toilet is something,” one resident said. “When you’ve been without for 10 years, it’s amazing.”

Bridges Supportive Housing is a partnership between Quesnel Shelter and Support Society (QSSS) and B.C. Housing. The West Quesnel building began accepting tenants in late October. It has 28 permanent studio apartments, with four temporary units and a host of programming options for tenants.

Melanie MacDonald is the executive director of the QSSS. She said aside from usual new building hiccups, the opening has gone smoothly.

“It’s been a really, really special experience to watch people move in,” MacDonald said. “Most people are coming in and just settling beautifully. Some people are having a difficult time because it’s been many years since they’ve had a home, so there’s an adjustment period.”

For one resident, the move-in was simply a relief to have his own space.

“It gives you a peace of mind,” he said. “You don’t mind getting up in the morning now because you have a day to look forward to. Before, it was a matter of ‘how am I going to stay warm today,’ or ‘what am I going to eat today.’”

MacDonald said she relied on experiences of other supportive housing buildings across B.C.

“The advantage of supportive housing is all the supports that come with it,” she said. “It’s not just moving in and having an apartment and four walls and a roof. It’s having experienced and caring staff surrounding you 24/7.”

Residents at Bridges receive two meals from an impressive commercial kitchen and support through health care, life skill coaching and other programming.

“It’s nice to sleep in in the morning, stay warm and come down and get a coffee,” the resident said. “It’s just super, and the people are really nice here … They go out of their way to pitch in and help.”

Rent at Bridges is $375 per month, with all utilities included. It’s the same amount as the provincial basic income assistance shelter portion.

The QSSS has received more than 70 applications for only 28 spots. MacDonald recognizes even with the new building, there is still a need for housing in Quesnel. She added a previous program that subsidized housing for people living out in the community isn’t being used as much because of a housing shortage.

READ MORE: ‘It’s a nightmare’: Quest for a home has Quesnel family desperate

“There’s definitely a shortage of housing available for everyone,” MacDonald said. “It’s not just affecting people who are living with lower incomes — it’s affecting everybody.”

For the 28 people living at Bridges, it’s a weight off their shoulders that is almost indescribable.

“I can relax, and I feel at home,” the resident said. “It’s an overwhelming feeling.”

READ MORE: West Quesnel’s Bridges Supportive Housing set for Oct. 1 launch

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