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Take a look inside Prince George’s newest supportive housing unit

50 new supportive housing units at 160 Ontario St. are ready to go

There are now 50 more safe and secure homes for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Prince George with the completion of a supportive housing unit near First Avenue.

The building, located at 160 Ontario St., is the first of a three-stage development on the site.

Connective will operate the new building and the society will provide residents with on-site staff and support services, including meal programs, life, and employment skills training, health and wellness supports, and opportunities for volunteer work.

“It’s the first new supportive housing building we have got in the community and it is really exciting for as we are all well aware of the challenges Prince George has experienced over the last couple of years with homelessness so we are hoping this will help to start make a difference,” said Chris Kinch, Connective’s director of provincial and northern initiatives.

“We know it's not going to solve homelessness at this point but it is a step in the right direction.”

Connective will also work with Indigenous partners to provide on-site, culturally appropriate support to Indigenous residents, such as healing circles, talking circles, and smudging to promote spiritual healing. Case planning for Indigenous residents will also be Indigenous-led and informed.

Kinch said the organization will work with clients to figure out their goals and connect them to either its services or services in the community and will be focused on building relationships.

“It is long-term permanent housing so some people may make decisions along the way that they want to move on, for others though this may be their home and it will be their home for an extended period of time, and we are there to support them.”

The building is still in the final stages of construction, but residents are expected to start moving into their new homes in late June.

“I think when you look at the downtown you see how many people are homeless and suffer from mental health and addiction issues, that part of our community is going to get a lot of support and help,” said Malachy Tohill, regional director of operations for the north for BC Housing.

He said the opening of this supportive housing unit is a big first step, but the impact on downtown Prince George will have to wait to be seen.

“I hope it has an impact when we get 50 more people off the street, 50 more people into housing and 50 more people who are going to get support. I am hoping it is a good change for downtown, but we will have to wait and see what that is.”

Mayor Lyn Hall also praised the partnership between the City, Northern Health and BC Housing.

"The collective efforts of BC Housing, Northern Health and the City of Prince George is bringing critical housing and health services to our vulnerable citizens with complex needs."

 Construction on the future phases of the project is expected to begin in 2023 and will include 50 affordable rental homes for Indigenous peoples and families, 50 additional supportive homes, and a healthcare clinic operated by Northern Health.

To help address the need for more supportive homes in Prince George, The National Hotel on 1201 First Ave. is also being renovated.

Active Support Against Poverty and the Canadian Mental Health Association will operate the hotel, which will provide an additional 27 homes with supports.

Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, also announced a new sobering and assessment centre will also be located at The National, which will include eight to 10 beds available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as a safe place for people under significant influence of substances to rest and be monitored.