When Richard St. Godard moves into his suite in Spero House next week, it will be a milestone moment for the 56-year-old Kamloops man.
Not only will he be more than one month sober, he will also have an address — for the first time in nearly five years.
Spero House, a $12-million BC Housing project on Tranquille Road operated by ASK Wellness, is set to welcome its first residents — St. Godard among them — on Monday. April 1. It is the latest supportive-housing project to open in Kamloops, aimed at giving the homeless and those at risk of being homeless a place to live and access supports.
“I’m 28 days clean today,” St. Godard told KTW on Friday, while reporters and local dignitaries were given a tour of the building at 317 Tranquille Rd. in North Kamloops. “It’s time to dust off the old way and go with what works. I want to get back into the working mode.”
St. Godard and other Spero House residents will be paying a modest government-subsidized rent of $375 per month. That will get them a suite and two meals per day — breakfast and dinner — served in the building’s cafeteria.
The suites are small but well-appointed. Each one includes a private bathroom and shower and a kitchenette with a small stove and a fridge.
Residents are chosen for BC Housing projects based on how they score on testing.
“It’s basically the same for all of our properties,” ASK Wellness tenant support worker Lynn MacPhail said. “Most of the people that are coming in here are independent and can live day-to-day on their own.”
Tenants at Spero House — Spero is the Latin word for “hope” — have signed contracts acknowledging the building rules, including a zero-tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use in the facility.
“Active users are not excluded from here, but we will have programs set up if they want to diminish their use,” MacPhail said, noting all the suites have residents ready to move in.
That programming includes medical facilities, nurses and two physicians who will be available for Spero House residents.
Spero House includes 62 suites — 58 permanent and four transitional, with eight of the permanent suites set aside for residents with disabilities. In addition to shared dining, tenants will have access to a commercial kitchen, a harm-reduction space, laundry, storage and round-the-clock support.
“This is a showcase of political will and collaboration,” ASK Wellness executive director Bob Hughes said, noting the turnaround seen in recent years in the North Shore business district.
“This corridor in Kamloops was the pinnacle of the neglected and the forgotten. … Now, this is a neighbourhood, a community, so many politicians and leaders should look to.”
Hughes said he hopes Spero House will be the beginning for new lives.
“This is the place where it starts,” he said. “When you get a home, from there, the transformation is breathtaking.”
Kamloops’ Horizon North was selected by the province to manufacture the modular units, while the City of Kamloops last year purchased the land on which Spero House sits.
The provincial government covered the $11.4 million in capital and construction costs and will provide an annual operating subsidy of $984,000 for the project.
DOWNTOWN PROJECT IN WORKS
Another BC Housing project is slated to rise in the coming months in downtown Kamloops.
The Emerald Centre, on West Victoria Street, is expected to open in the fall, in the parking lot to the east of the Emerald Centre homeless shelter.
It will include 52 units of subsidized housing and will be managed by the Canadian Mental Health Association.