With only finishing touches remaining, a once-controversial housing project in Kelowna is finally ready to open its doors.
In just a few days, McCurdy Place’s 49 new residents will move in, giving them access to a safe place as they continue their journey to recovery.
Seventeen of those residents are young, vulnerable youth. This space is said to give them the support they need as they transition into healthy adulthood.
McCurdy Place was created with the intention of supporting vulnerable people in the community; people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness who are further along their recovery journey.
Previously a petition was launched protesting the project, saying proper consultation was not sought. It also protested the proximity of the project to local schools.
However, associate director of housing and homelessness services with the Canadian Mental Health Association Kelowna (CMHA Kelowna), Jen Kanters, said they’ve invited the project’s strongest critics. She said they wanted the community to see what McCurdy Place has to offer and how the wraparound support system will help the residents as they turn their lives around.
Those who were most vocal against the project, have since had a change of heart.
“We’ve had individuals who expressed concerns previously who now want to donate and volunteer here,” Kanters said.
According to the Province, all residents staying at McCurdy Place will receive individualized case planning to further develop life and social skills, including employment planning. This will be done through the help of a mental health and substance use specialist.
It will also help transition them towards independence, and ultimately recovery, according to the Province. At least two staff will be on the site at all times.
Kanters said CMHA Kelowna worked intentionally to find people who needed a home and who were ready to take the next step towards recovery.
“We’ve put a lot of work into selecting the individuals who are moving into McCurdy Place … And a part of that has been (asking them to) agree to be on a wellness plan,” she said.
Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, David Eby, announced the opening Friday, saying the government continues to work to ensure, “everyone in Kelowna – from seniors on fixed incomes to working families – has an affordable place to live.”
In addition to the 49 homes, one floor of the four-storey building at McCurdy Place has been dedicated to supporting young adults.
It will be managed by CMHA Kelowna.
Mayor of Kelowna Colin Basran said homelessness affects the whole community, not just those who experience it directly; their families, friends, and neighbours as well.
“These new homes with supports mean 49 people in Kelowna will have a comfortable, reliable and safe place to live with the supports in place they need. That’s an important accomplishment in itself, but it also demonstrates what can be achieved when agencies and different levels of government work together,” he said March 19.
Residents will begin moving into their new homes on Monday, March 22. A new committee, comprised of local government, authorities, health groups, and more, will oversee the project’s integration within the community and help address any concerns that may arise.
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