KAMLOOPS — A unique partnership between ASK Wellness, the City of Kamloops, B.C. Housing and other community groups is being unveiled, hoping to open to clients in the final stages of recovery in September.
"The Maverick is that place where people can actually enter into the workforce," said Bob Hughes, executive director of ASK Wellness. "Get a sense of being in community, get a real solid start on their life, and returning back to a place where they have a job, have a good income."
Renovations are already underway to the 42-room motel after the province bought the motel for $6.5 million in April. Gone will be the outdoor waterslide — recently sold to a Kamloops resident — replaced by a community kitchen.
The transition housing, to be run by ASK Wellness, will gives the residents a two-year window to stay, helping them craft their resumes in the hopes of landing them permanent employment.
"We will connect with the different employers in town and try to find opportunities that we can bring to the clients," said Kevin Watt, employment coordinator for the new Maverick Manor. "We'll work on general employment services like resume, cover letter skills, job searching skills, and also employment maintenance. How to keep your job, which is really challenging thing for a lot of people."
Deb Niehaus has benefitted from this kind of ASK Wellness housing support. Left without a place to live in April, she reached out to ASK, which set her up with the housing, and now full-time employment.
Niehaus now has her own place and is loving her new life.
"It's nice to get a paycheque. That's the greatest thing of all," she said. "Having a roof over your head and being able to pay for your own rent, go to the grocery store. You can buy food for yourself, gas for your car. You don't have to put like $5-10, you can fill it right up."
Niehaus knows how much this new unit will help transform people's lives.
"It's a great program. It really is. I am so blessed, I'm so lucky to have all these resources," she noted. "Take advantage of it. Go for it. Don't let anything stop you."
The residents will have their own space, their own lives at a cost of $425 a month. However, there will be a supervisor on site around the clock to help with any problems residents may encounter.
Concerns about new Maverick Manor
While there is great promise and excitement for the project, there are some residents and businesses worried about the impact of housing unit on the community.
Sandra Desrosiers, general manager at Aberdeen Mall, attended last night's open house and voiced her concerns about the potential for panhandling or criminal activity in and around the site.
However, Hughes did his best to reassure her and others in attendance that ask wellness will be clamping down and won't tolerate that type of behaviour.
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