Residents and community leaders got some insight into how the City’s new housing project to address homelessness will work.
A virtual meeting on Aug. 26 was attended by representatives from BC Housing, Quesnel RCMP, the City of Quesnel and Quesnel School District, as well as those living in the area where Bridges Supportive Housing is located.
The Quesnel Shelter and Support Society will take over the building, located at 355 Elliott St., on Sept. 14, and tenants will begin moving in on Oct. 1.
The meeting was hosted by Melanie MacDonald, the executive director of Season’s House. She said the housing offers a permanent solution to homelessness.
“Nobody will be expected to transition out [of Bridges Supportive Housing],” MacDonald said. “Some people may be with us for many, many years, and others, we know this might just be a transition period in their life.”
The building holds 28 pet-friendly, furnished studio apartments and four supportive recovery units, alongside a kitchen, dining hall, group areas, and 24/7 supports.
“Quite often when shelters or housing providers don’t allow pets, people don’t go to shelters,” MacDonald said. “Those pets are often a lifeline and a very important companion, so we welcome pets in our environment and find them a very welcome addition.”
Residents at Bridges will be asked to sign a stricter lease than a normal rental agreement.
“They’re moving under program agreements, so when they move in with us, part of that program agreement is that they sign on to be a good neighbour,” MacDonald said. “If there’s any issues with an individual, we’re always working in partnership with the [RCMP].”
She added there needs to be harsh consequences so the working and living environment at Bridges is safe.
The most recent homeless survey counted 121 homeless people in Quesnel. MacDonald said the organization received more than 60 applications to live in the building. Applicants must have some form of income to apply.
BC Housing co-ordinated access and assessment manager Frank Tik attended the meeting.
He said when there was a vacancy, applications would be brought forward by non-profits that work directly with the homeless population.
“[It’s a] balance between who would be successful in the vacancy in this building, in balance with who is needing housing at that time,” Tik said. “That decision becomes one the community makes, rather than a chronological wait list.”
Rent is $375 per month, with utilities and laundry onsite. No guests will be allowed for at least three months, and only people 19 and older will be allowed onsite.
Kelly Worobetz lives in the area, and attended the meeting, asking questions about safety.
“Just this little bit of information has really helped me be a little more calm about the whole thing,” he said. “It kind of gets blown out of proportion.”
Bridges will hold monthly meetings with the community to keep them updated on their progress.