What was once the location of Alibi's Show Lounge will now become permanent housing and shelter options for people in Prince George experiencing homelessness.
The province, through BC Housing, has purchased the National Hotel at 1201 1 Ave. with the intention to renovate the building and provide 27 homes with wraparound supports by early 2022.
BC Housing will select an experienced non-profit service provider to manage the building with around-the-clock staff on site, including meal programs, life and employment skills training, as well as health and wellness support services.
"Everyone deserves a place to call home. We are working hard to make sure people experiencing homelessness in Prince George have a safe and secure place to stay," said Attorney General David Eby in a news release today (Dec. 17), who is also the Minister Responsible for Housing.
"When vulnerable people have access to housing and shelter with supports, they can stabilize and rebuild their lives, and the whole community benefits."
Since summer 2019, BC Housing has leased 18 units at the hotel and operated them as temporary supportive housing. The purchase ensures much-needed supportive homes permanently remain in the community.
The renovations will include new office space for outreach and service providers to help them provide supports to clients and residents, as well as newly refurbished administrative space on the ground floor.
During the renovations, existing residents will be able to remain in their homes and, as renovations near completion, housing applications will be reviewed for tenants to be selected for the remaining unoccupied rooms.
BC Housing says it has informed existing hotel tenants, immediate neighbours and select stakeholders of the purchase and intended use of the hotel.
Rezoning is not needed given the site is zoned appropriately.
In addition, the province is opening a new 30-bed temporary shelter at 1151 2 Ave.
Operated by the Prince George Native Friendship Centre (PGNFC), the shelter is scheduled to open next month and will stay open 24-7 during the winter months, providing a warm, safe and physically-distanced place to stay for more people.
"The pathways into homelessness are complex. Housing solves homelessness; a simple answer to a complex problem, but no less true for its simplicity," said PGNFC Executive Director Barb Ward-Burkitt.
"The Prince George Native Friendship Centre is committed to providing a diverse range of services and supports through a trauma informed and cultural approach as inclusiveness, friendship and kinship is the way to building strong relationships, understandings and safety. We are excited to open the new shelter to complement and support other 24-hour adult housing facilities in Prince George."
Guests are set to receive daily meals and access to support services through this initiative.