09:46 AM

Province providing accommodation to resolve Lonzo encampment

ABBOTSFORD - The Province is working with the City of Abbotsford, BC Housing and local service providers to transition people living at the encampment at Lonzo Road and Sumas Way into safe indoor spaces to address health and safety concerns.

Once the encampment has been vacated, construction will begin on a new 50-bed shelter that will be temporarily located at the site. The new shelter will replace the existing 40-bed Riverside Road shelter and allow the Riverside shelter to be replaced by a new permanent supportive housing building, adjacent to Cole Starnes Place.

"We are taking action to provide much-needed shelter and housing for people experiencing homelessness, and to support their safety and stability in Abbotsford," said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. "While we understand this encampment response at Lonzo will be challenging for its current occupants, it is necessary to address health, fire and safety issues at the encampment, and to support the creation of a new shelter on the Lonzo site as well as new supportive housing in the community."

People living in the encampment have been notified that they must vacate the site by June 26, 2023, so construction on the new shelter can begin on schedule. Everyone sheltering at the encampment will be offered an indoor space, either through assistance relocating to available shelter or supportive housing spaces in the community, or through rent supplements for use in the private market. Temporary storage for belongings will be provided.

BC Housing staff, outreach workers and non-profit service providers will be on site to support people living at the encampment during this transition.

There are approximately 15 people living at the Lonzo encampment. Construction of the new shelter also requires the removal of approximately 25 unpermitted RVs and cars at the site. Some of the vehicles are used as shelters and others are abandoned. Removal of the vehicles will begin once residents have vacated the site.

Construction on the new shelter is expected to be complete by the end of 2023. Once construction is completed, the shelter will operate for as long as 18 months, while a new permanent shelter location is secured.

"The City of Abbotsford is grateful for the Province and BC Housing's continued support of our community through these important housing first investments," said Ross Siemens, mayor, Abbotsford. "We know that sheltering in encampments is not safe and our community has struggled to provide adequate support services for the vulnerable people located in this area. The new shelter and the encampment response at Lonzo Road and Sumas Way will provide immediate supports for people sheltering outside at that location, and the new permanent supportive housing facility will provide greatly needed additional community supports for people experiencing homelessness in Abbotsford."

The Province, through BC Housing, is investing approximately $4 million through the Homeless Action Plan for the new Lonzo shelter. It will be operated by the Lookout Housing and Health Society.

In addition, the Province will partner with Abbotsford to implement the new Homeless Encampment Action Response Teams (HEART) program. HEART is a new multidisciplinary regional program designed to rapidly respond to encampments to better support people sheltering outdoors to move inside. The program is expected to begin operations this fall.

The HEART program is part of Belonging in BC, the Province's plan to prevent and reduce homelessness. The plan will also add 3,900 new supportive housing units and 240 complex-care spaces provincewide.

This project is part of a $19-billion housing investment by the B.C. government. Since 2017, the Province has delivered more than 76,000 new homes that have been completed or are underway for people in B.C., including nearly 480 homes in Abbotsford.

Learn More:

To learn more about the Belonging in BC Provincial Homelessness Plan, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/BelongingStrategy.pdf

To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit: https://workingforyou.gov.bc.ca/