KELOWNA, B.C. – A homelessness solution is being celebrated by Kelowna City Council, but some neighbours of the latest project say they’ve been overwhelmed by transition housing in recent years.
“It’s just going to be a nightmare, I think anyway,” says Aaron Powers. Across the street from his home on Chandler Street are two half-way houses and an addiction recovery home.
Other neighbours are supportive of the permanent housing for the homeless.
“We just feel that people do need somewhere and I think it’s going to be a well run place,” says Megan, a neighbor with a young family. “It will be ok.”
Inn from the Cold plans to open the eight bed house following renovations. The first floor will be occupied by the non-profit society’s offices.
“We’ll make sure we’re really respectful of the neighbours and that’s why the staff is there,” says Inn from the Cold Coordinator Tara Tschritter. “It won’t be a party house by any means.”
The housing plan was before Kelowna City Council Tuesday night. The property is zoned to accommodate the living space, but needed an amendment for a caretakers suite on the first floor, which was passed by council.
“We have these group homes all over the city and we have very, very few problems,” says Mayor Walter Gray. “Because once a homeless person who is living, by and large, a very lonely, all alone life now at least has other people that share the same kind of social problems in life.”
Tschritter believes neighbourhood fears about their plans will be addressed at a welcome barbeque in the summer.
“Some people were apprehensive of course, not knowing what this will mean for their neighbourhood,” she says. “Sometimes there’s fear in what you don’t know. And once you meet people who are experiencing homelessness and get to know them and realize they’re part of our community and they are really just like you and me, then that fear starts to fade away.”
Doris Maria Bregolisse reports.