Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Welcome to your home

By Darren Handschuh - CASTANET Sep 28, 2016 / 5:00 am
A measure of relief is at hand for people in need of affordable housing. Barbara Levesque, executive director of the John Howard Society of the North Okanagan/Kootenay Region, said units at the Blair Apartments are ready for tenants. In fact, several have already moved in. Affordable housing has been a major issue in the city for years, as it is in many communities. Formerly the Journey Inn Motel, the hotel rooms were renovated and upgraded into apartments that feature 37 bachelor units and two one-bedroom units. Renos include new carpet, paint, some plumbing and electrical work and a new rail which had to be installed on the upper level to bring the building up to code. B.C. Housing owns the building and is taking care of the renovations, while the JHS board finds the tenants. Levesque said the society received some 200 applications for the 39 units. The bachelor suites will rent for $475 a month, while the one-bedroom units will go for $525. Levesque said that includes all utilities, basic cable and access to laundry facilities. “People are moving in every week as the units are completed,” said Levesque. “There are some really happy people. I think we are going to see an immediate impact.” The apartments are for adults and include a blend of seniors, students and people on disability. “It's a really mixed community,” she said. Because the apartments do not have cooking facilities – they each have a microwave and a fridge – a communal kitchen has been built where people can cook food in groups and divide the portions, or people can select a time and cook for themselves. Levesque anticipates the residents will form a tight community. She said often people who do not feel welcome in a facility tend to isolate themselves, but she hopes the communal aspect of the facility will bring people together. A green space where the pool used to be is also planned.

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