Chilliwack – On Monday, social media lit up with the confirmation that the old Travelodge next to Highway 1 (off Yale) was the new destination for the homeless staying at the Portal Shelter, albeit temporarily. (The IHOP next door had already announced it was closing May 18).
On Tuesday BC Housing made it official with comments and some more figures.
While the Travelodge site is not currently zoned for use as supportive housing, the City of Chilliwack is allowing operation of the building on a temporary basis due to the pandemic.
In the coming months, BC Housing intends to submit a proposal to the city to rezone the site, with the intention of securing these much-needed supportive homes for permanent use.
The former hotel, located at 45466 Yale Rd., has 82 units, each with their own washroom, kitchenette and storage space. Ruth and Naomi’s Mission, an experienced non-profit housing operator, will manage the building. Staff will be on-site 24/7 and will provide residents with supports such as daily meals, mentorship, life skill training, wellness checks and referrals to health services.
Since April 2020, BC Housing has been leasing 44 rooms at the hotel as temporary housing for vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic. By purchasing the hotel, the residents will be able to remain in the building, while the remaining units will be available for other people experiencing homelessness in the community.
Ruth and Naomi’s Oasis Residential Addictions Treatment Services Program will also be moved to this site. Twenty rooms will be designated to the program, which provides recovery services for people who are ready to address personal challenges regarding addiction and mental health.
The treatment program was previously based out of Ruth and Naomi’s Margaret Avenue location. This move will free up space at the Margaret Avenue shelter to accommodate guests from The Portal shelter, which is set to close on July 15, 2021.
Ken Popove, mayor, City of Chilliwack – “The pandemic has shone a light on the work that still needs to be done to ensure everyone in our community has the opportunity to be housed. We are grateful that the Province recognizes this need in our community and look forward to working further with BC Housing on supportive housing options.”
Bill Raddatz, executive director, Ruth and Naomi’s Mission – “Since 2000, Ruth And Naomi’s has been privileged to be the champion and catalyst for the health and well-being of those living on the margins of our community struggling with poverty, homelessness, mental health and addiction. We are grateful to BC Housing for allowing us to be the provider of services for this venture and extend a pathway to a better life for all for those living at this site.”
Dan Coulter, MLA for Chilliwack – “These rooms with supports will provide immediate safety and shelter to our community’s most vulnerable. I would like to thank the City of Chilliwack for working with us to keep these spaces open at a time when they’re needed most.”