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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The Salvation Army has officially opened its new supportive housing building in Fort St. John.
The Northern Centre of Hope West building is located at 9916 99th Avenue and had its opening ceremony on November 7th, which included multiple local delegates.
Outgoing mayor Lori Ackerman said she’d seen the evolution of Fort St. John and how that growth has led to a need for initiatives like this.
“If you can house people, then you can lift them off the street and bring them into an environment that allows them to heal,” said Ackerman.
Incoming mayor Lillia Hansen also agrees that the housing will bring a positive light to the community and those struggling with homelessness. She said that giving people a safe and secure place is a very important step.
The building is meant for long-term accommodation and is the second supportive housing complex the Salvation Army has been involved with managing in Canada. The first of which was built in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
BC Housing provided $15 million to fund the project and will continue to provide $1.2 million annually for operational costs.
“We’re humbled to be given this task by BC Housing,” said Jared Braun, executive director of the Fort St. John Salvation Army.
The building boasts 42 studio units that include mini kitchens and private bathrooms. Three of the units on the first floor are built for those with accessibility needs, and Braun indicated that the third floor of the building would be a designated women’s floor.
Building amenities include a commercial kitchen, laundry rooms on the first and third floors, a lounge, a patio, a reception area, and an office. Staff will be on hand at the building 24/7.
The building will prioritize residents experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. The facility will provide meals, transportation, case planning, social support, overdose prevention, and health referral services.
The facility will be open to single residents aged 19 and older.
Unlike other projects by the Salvation Army, which focus on short-term and transitional housing, this building is meant for long-term residents. Braun says it is intended to be a home for as long as people need it, in every way.
He says the aim is for it to be supportive. “A community of care.”
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