City of Penticton wants piece of funding pie for modular housing

Click to play video: 'Penticton eager for provincial money to help homeless' Penticton eager for provincial money to help homeless
Penticton eager for provincial money to help homeless – Nov 16, 2017

The City of Penticton says it wants a piece of the provincial funding pie for interim housing projects as it grapples with a homeless crisis.

The B.C. NDP government has committed to build 2,000 modular housing units throughout B.C. with 24/7 staffing and support services.

On Wednesday, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson, was in Vernon to announce $11 million towards two projects in the north Okanagan.

The City of Penticton is hoping it’s next on the list.

“I’ve received calls regularly from people who just need a place to live that have jobs, it’s not just a single demographic issue,” said Penticton’s chief administrative officer Peter Weeber.

“We would rather have people living in a modular unit with support services, which the province is committed to, than living in breezeways and having to pan handle all day,” he said.

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The city says since the 2016 Housing Needs Assessment took place, a total of 132 affordable housing units have been approved and will be under construction this fall, but to meet the targeted need, an additional 107 units are still required.

READ MORE: Calls for women’s homeless shelter in Penticton

A group committed to housing vulnerable citizens, 100 Homes Penticton, said homelessness is on the rise.

“We identified 128 people last year, right now another count is actually happening this week and we’ll have a clearer picture of what the number is right now,” said committee member Ian Gerbrandt. “But we know from our supportive housing registry that we have in our city that it’s growing.”

Weeber says the city is looking for suitable city-owned land.

“We’re having difficulty finding property, the city doesn’t own a lot of property, so we’re working with other agencies around some existing projects to see if we can expand the footprints of those projects,” he said.

READ MORE: City in crisis: Homelessness and drug use on the streets of Penticton

“It can be very cost-effective to quickly build, we have local builders in our region that do that for a living and if you cans secure the land, these things can happen really quick,” added Gerbrandt.

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Robinson was asked if the provincial government will provide funding for a modular housing project in Penticton.

“We have a number of communities that we are currently working with and making sure that we have as many of the resources out and available as we can during the cold winter months,” Robinson said on Wednesday.

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