New Kelowna, B.C. complex-care housing units to support mental health, addictions

Click to play video: 'More complex-care units announced'
More complex-care units announced
The province announced hundreds of more complex-care units for B.C. on Monday, including some here in Kelowna. As our Taya Fast reports, officials could not provide information on just how many people are in need of these services locally. – Apr 15, 2024

The province has announced 40 housing units in Kelowna, B.C., for those struggling with mental health and addictions.

Of the 40 units, 20 are complex-care and 20 are supportive housing units.

“We’re standing here in the middle of a beautiful field of bluebells that is very soon going to become a foundation and a future site for recovery and support for those who are facing challenges with mental health and addiction and who are at risk of homelessness,” said B.C.’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jennifer Whiteside.

“This is a symbol of our commitment to building solutions that reach the roots of our community’s needs.”

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Tiny homes expected to reduce number of people sheltering outside in Kelowna

The initiative is part of a larger plan to build a total of 240 complex care housing units around the province.

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Two hundred of these units will be throughout Abbotsford, Burnaby, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, New Westminster, Prince George, Sechelt, Surrey, Vancouver and Victoria.

The remaining 40 will be Indigenous-led and the ministry said officials are working with Indigenous groups to identify partners and priority communities.

“It provides the highest level of support for people who are facing a mix of complex and overlapping challenges, helps people who are living with particularly difficult mental health issues including addiction and other health concerns that complicate their everyday life,” said Whiteside.

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“I’m happy to tell you that of the 500 units that we announced in phase one of the program. We have 443 people in British Columbia receiving care and support in their homes through this program. And today, we are so proud to be here to launch phase two of complex care, housing and expansion.”

Click to play video: 'Officials celebrate new supportive housing centre'
Officials celebrate new supportive housing centre

With a growing so called tent city in Kelowna, officials were unable to provide data on just how many people are in need of complex care.

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Danielle Cameron, Interior Health executive director, said the health authority does not track the number of people in need of complex care.

“There’s multiple contributing factors that would make somebody eligible for this type of housing,” said Cameron.

“I can’t answer that with any degree of specificity. But I can say with confidence that there are people in our community that both need this kind of housing, as well as will benefit from this housing that we’ve announced today.”

Interior Health social worker Ashley Halston said complex care can look like a range of needs.

“For those dealing with challenges like mental health and substance use alongside housing instability, these units represent more than just a roof over their heads. They signify a valuable opportunity for support and stability,” said Halston.

“For far too long individuals navigating these challenges have been caught in a cycle of insecurity, isolation and limited support. Today is an important step in improving that support and recognizing their specific needs.”

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Complex care housing is voluntary person-centred health care with cultural and social support under the same roof.

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People will also be allowed to live at the facility for as long as needed.

“This is not bed-based treatment for addictions… complex care housing is designed to bring services to individuals who are at risk of homelessness and people who are cycling through episodic homelessness,” said Whiteside.

According to the minister, the City of Kelowna donated the $4-million piece of land which will expedite the building process.

However, there is no timeline as to when the building will officially open.

“We will be building as quickly as possible and opening the doors to the new facility which will have a significant impact on the health and safety of our most vulnerable residents offering them the security of housing care and treatment,” said Kelowna Mayor Tom Dyas.

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