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Kelowna’s newest supportive housing unit set to open its doors

Click to play video 'Kelowna’s newest supportive housing unit set to open its doors' Kelowna’s newest supportive housing unit set to open its doors
Ellis Place is the CMHA's fourth supportive housing unit to come online in Kelowna – Oct 29, 2020

A fresh start for 38 individuals.

That’s what the Kelowna branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association is calling its latest home for the homeless.

Ellis Place is the CMHA’s fourth supportive housing unit to come online, bringing the number of homeless housed by CMHA Kelowna to more than 200.

READ MORE: New overnight emergency shelters for Kelowna’s homeless on the way

The three-storey, supportive housing unit is completely modular, meaning it was built off-site and then assembled on-site, much like Lego.

“We were able to get this thing up and opening within the first four months, which is, from a timeline, incredible,” CMHA Kelowna director of services Mike Gawliuk told Global News.

More importantly, Ellis Place is going to provide a safe place to call home for 38 people.

“It’s everything. It’s the place that you have to start, it’s having a door to lock at night, it’s having your own bathroom, it’s having your own space,” Gawliuk said.

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But like almost all supportive housing units, not everyone is happy with the new facility.“Eighty per cent of your problem comes with 20 per cent of the people,” said Carlos Capela owner of M&T Northside Services.Capela, who’s garage service is almost right next door to Ellis Place, is worried about the risk of increased crime, but not necessarily from the residents themselves.“The people that come up in their minivans and set up camp on the street nearby to be able to sell drugs to the people living in that building,” Capela said of his concerns.
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And while Ellis Place is a ‘low barrier residence — meaning occupants can use alcohol and drugs in their home — residents will benefit from a unique partnership with Interior Health.“There’s going to be a registered nurse and social worker who are going to be here seven days a week eight hours a day,” said Jessica Samuels, communications manager at CMHA Kelowna.“These clinical services are extra supports for the residents here, which means they have a better chance to stabilize their lives,” Samuels added.Ellis Place will open its doors for residents in early November.