New bridge housing will service Kamloops’ most vulnerable

By Adam Donnelly
October 6, 2018 - 4:28pm Updated: October 6, 2018 - 5:14pm

KAMLOOPS — While the timing of the announcement was a little questionable, there no doubt the news of up to 40 spaces for transitional housing on the North Shore is a welcome one in Kamloops.

In a news release Saturday morning, the province announced it has partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association to create “approximately 30 short-term beds at 185 Royal Ave” with the goal of the facility to “provide residents with 24/7 support to help them transition into more permanent housing.”

Executive Director of the Kamloops branch of the CHMA, Christa Mullaly, says the project is meant to bridge the gap in housing as the new modular housing units announced earlier this year are ready.

WATCH: LOCAL REACTION THE SATURDAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT OF UP TO 40 BRIDGE HOUSING BEDS IN KAMLOOPS

“The intention is to bring folks in through the winter and the springtime until both the modular sites are finished,” Mullaly tells CFJC Today. “When those sites are finished, our intention will be to move folks from this bridge housing into permanent housing.”

The building, located at 185 Royal Avenue, currently houses the JUMP Program kitchens, some ASK Wellness staff, as well as the ASK Wellness mattress recycling program. While the ASK Wellness facilities will be moving to a new location in the city, Mullaly says losing the JUMP Program will create some new challenges for those looking for a drop-in space where meals are offered.

“Our goal is to work with the folks that are currently accessing JUMP, both to be able to assess them to bring them into housing, but also to ensure that the meals that will no longer be accessible [at the JUMP Program drop-in], will be accessible other places throughout the community.”

Cynthia Travers, Chair for the Lived Experience Committee for Homelessness, agrees losing the drop-in space means the community will need to find another venue for a day shelter for the many who access the services the facility currently provides.

“The 'My Place Program' will have to get a designated home, it’s going to have to [increase] to three days a week because we’re losing the Saturday meals here, we’re losing the food share here,” Travers explains. “That’s going to be hard. we’ll definitely need another day shelter on the North Shore.”

Despite the loss, Travers says the change in services being offered at the Royal Avenue building as a positive step for those who don’t have a permanent place to stay in the city.

“I find it to be totally amazing,” Travers says. “It’s 40 more people who [are] going to have a designated home, and home is so important… we have some wonderful programming that’s going to be coming out this as well, so it’s really good.”

Mulally says the change will improve some of the complaints from the neighbourhood, surrounding some of the issues that came with housing the drop-in.

“We truly want to make this a home environment for folks where they can come in, stabilize, get well and have services really accessible to them,” Mulally says. “There has been an incredible amount of stakeholders working on this particular project. One of the tasks ahead of us over the rest of October is truly working with our neighbourhood in an ongoing way to ensure that folks that are accessing the JUMP Program for meals do have another place to go.”

For more on Saturday's announcement, click here.

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