More than 100 supportive homes preserved in Prince George
PRINCE GEORGE - People experiencing homelessness in Prince George will continue to have access to safe and secure housing as the Province purchases two properties to preserve and create 123 supportive homes.
"The purchase of these former motel sites and the extension of our Knights Inn lease ensures ongoing access to much-needed shelter and housing for people experiencing homelessness in Prince George, and supports their safety and stability," said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. "This is part of our work to improve everyone's quality of life in Prince George and safely help people sheltering outdoors move indoors, where they can access the kind of housing and supports they need to stabilize their lives."
The first property, located at 1550 Victoria St., formerly North Star Inn and Suites, will provide 96 new supportive homes through two separate buildings, including a 60-unit building and a smaller 36-unit building. Both buildings require renovations, which are expected to be completed by early 2024 for the larger building and mid-2024 for the smaller building. To ensure people experiencing homelessness have access to a home sooner, essential renovations to both buildings will be accelerated, with the remaining renovations to occur after occupancy.
The purchase of 1550 Victoria St. is part of an agreement between the Province and the City of Prince George to implement the new Homeless Encampment Action Response Temporary Housing (HEARTH) program. HEARTH provides emergency housing, shelter options and immediate co-ordinated supports to assist people in encampments or sheltering in public spaces to move indoors and access temporary or permanent housing options that fit their needs.
The second building, formerly Lotus Hotel and located at 197 Quebec St., has 27 units, including 24 single-occupancy units, two one-bedroom units and one two-bedroom unit. The hotel was originally leased by BC Housing as temporary housing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Renovations are needed to convert the building into permanent housing and once underway, the 14 current tenants will be permanently relocated to another supportive housing building at 1107 3rd Ave. Renovations, starting in fall, are expected to be completed by spring 2024. Twenty-seven new residents will move in after renovations are complete.
The Association Advocating for Women and Community (AWAC), which has managed 197 Quebec St. since BC Housing first started leasing it, will continue to temporarily operate the building until renovations begin in fall. AWAC provides residents with support services, including 24/7 staffing, daily meals, employment support and referral to community services. BC Housing will select a permanent operator through a request for proposals.
BC Housing has also signed a two-year lease extension as operator of the Knights Inn motel at 650 Dominion St., ensuring 44 units of existing supportive housing will continue to be available for people living outdoors or in emergency shelters. The City of Prince George recently purchased the Knights Inn and the new lease means BC Housing will be the managing operator until March 2026.
The purchases are part of a $19-billion housing investment by the B.C. government. Since 2017, the Province has nearly 77,000 homes delivered or underway, including more than 400 homes in Prince George.
To learn more about the Province and City of Prince George's agreement to support people who are unhoused, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023PREM0036-000959
To learn more about Homes for People action plan, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023HOUS0019-000436
To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/housing/
A backgrounder follows.