The former Fortune Motel in North Kamloops has opened as housing for the homeless or those at risk of being homeless.
The provincial government purchased the motel in June 2021 for $3.6 million and had originally planned to open in the fall of 2021 with 40 living units in the two buildings on the property.
However, delays — including water damage from burst pipes last winter — led to the opening being postponed until this week.
The originally planned 40 units have been reduced to 28 in the larger building on the lot.
BC Housing said it will redevelop the smaller building, though a long-term use for the building has not yet been determined.
The Kamloops branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association will operate the building, which is now called Genesis Place.
"Our renewed mandate and commitment promote natural and culturally holistic wellness-focused services that encourage social and emotional growth," said Alfred Achoba, executive director of the local chapter of the CMHA.
Residents will have access to around-the-clock support services, including daily meals and life-skills training, while the CMHA will connect residents to Interior Health for any related services they may require.
BC Housing said residents were selected through the supportive housing registry and all residents must sign a program agreement (similar to a tenancy agreement) and pay rent.
There is no prohibition on alcohol or drug use at the former motel.
BC Housing said residents are permitted to make their own choices regarding lifestyle, including the decision to abstain or use drugs and alcohol in the privacy of their homes.
BC Housing said a harm-reduction approach will have CMHA staff working with residents to ensure they use alcohol and drugs safely.
The province agency said the former motel was chosen as the site for Genesis Place because of the increasing demand for homes with supports, their availability, costs and proximity to transit and other services.
Regarding the facility’s close proximity to Arthur Hatton elementary, BC Housing said many supportive housing sites in B.C. have been operating near schools for more than a decade “with no issues and with support from the community.
BC Housing said there are more than 210 provincially funded supportive housing sites across the province that are within 500 metres of a school.