Take a tour of Kamloops’ newest supportive-housing project

Osborne House is set to open next week with 53 residents

The first of three new supportive housing projects aimed at reducing the number of homeless on Kamloops streets is slated to open next week.

Osborne House, located at 805 Mission Flats Rd., will welcome its first residents on Tuesday.

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“I’m very happy to be here,” said Robert Sedore, one of 54 residents slated to move in next week. “This is going to be a good home for me.”

The project came together quickly, according to Ann Howard, regional director of BC Housing.

“It came together in record time,” she said. “I don’t think there was another project in all of B.C. that happened so fast.”

Osborne House will be managed by the ASK Wellness Society, whose executive director, Bob Hughes, teared up while talking about the void in the community the project will fill.

“This is one of the most ambitious projects this organization has ever been involved with,” he said.

“Six weeks ago, this piece of land was just that — there was no power, no water. … This was something that I didn’t think could have possibly been done.

“People literally changed the course of their fall work to do this. This is all because winter was coming and people had nowhere to go.”

Osborne House is named for Donnie Osborne, a longtime Kamloops resident who lived in supportive housing prior to his death in 2016. It was built in partnership with Horizon North and is made up of repurposed work camp trailers.

Residents will pay $375 monthly for rent, which includes three meals a day prepared on-site. The building includes common areas for socialization, a health centre and a laundry room.

Rooms were offered based on the results of vulnerability assessments conducted by local community agencies, including ASK Wellness.

When it was announced, the Mission Flats project was described as temporary. But, according to site co-ordinator Michele Claudepierre, that may not be the case.

“It’s three years for sure, kind of while that more permanent modular stuff is being built, then with a possibility of a fourth year or a fifth year,” she said.

“But who knows? Maybe this could stay forever and this could be almost a landing spot for people to get into something a little more permanent.”

The location of Osborne House is not without its challenges. Claudepierre said the project’s distance from downtown and the Tranquille corridor could cut both ways for residents.

“It’s good to get people out of that downtown core and North Shore, but transportation is going to be an issue,” she said.

Mission Flats Road was not constructed with pedestrian traffic in mind, though city crews were out on Thursday painting crosswalks on area roads, apparently in anticipation of Osborne House’s opening.

ASK plans to operate a shuttle service to and from the site and Claudepierre said residents will never be left stranded elsewhere in the city.

Osborne House is one of three supportive housing projects in the works. Another is under construction on Tranquille Road and the third is slated to rise on West Victoria Street.

Howard said she is excited to see the project complete.

“Each resident has their own door, a lock to their room and, when they go to bed at night, they don’t have to worry about someone stealing their stuff or beating them up,” she said.

© 2018 Kamloops This Week

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