03
November
2021
|
13:11 PM
America/Los_Angeles

The Riverstone provides homes to Indigenous Peoples in Hope

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BB, a resident at The Riverstone, sits in his new living room

In the last place he lived, BB dealt with rats and mould. In his new apartment at The Riverstone, such problems are nonexistent.

“I like my little place here. It's home to me now,” BB says.

The affordable housing project in Hope, which opened in July, provides 45 homes for Indigenous families, Elders, and individuals. It includes a 37-unit apartment building and eight townhouse units.

BB, who is Stó:lō, lives in a one-bedroom unit. He appreciates his new space, especially his walk-in closet. In it, he has a freezer for his fish.

“Fishing is part of my culture,” BB says.

Rent is geared to income at The Riverstone. Tenants pay no more than 30% of gross household income toward rent.

For BB, affordable rent means fishing has become less about making money. Lately, he’s been providing fish to his family instead of selling it.

“I ended up giving my fish away to my aunties for free, just making them happy, you know? And then they did their happy dance. It was pretty cool,” BB says.

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The apartment portion of The Riverstone

The Riverstone is operated by Mamele'awt Qweesome Housing Society (MQHS), a non-profit that provides housing to residents in the Fraser Valley region.

Janice Silver, chief executive officer of MQHS, says affordable housing for Indigenous peoples is “much-needed” in Hope.

“There is a real lack of multifamily buildings in Hope, as well as many low-income families and individuals that don’t have access to affordable housing, so there was a huge need to supply some of that,” Janice says.

Janice believes The Riverstone, which is the tallest building in Hope at four-storeys, will influence future housing in the community.

“I think The Riverstone is going to spillover into the need for more multifamily buildings and affordable housing in Hope,” Janice says.

In addition to housing, MQHS offers support to tenants through a tenant support worker, Jess.

Jess has an office in the apartment building. She creates case plans with tenants, offers referrals to outside services, and, while she’s not a counsellor, she’s a safe person to confide in.

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Jess, a tenant support worker at The Riverstone, provides a variety of supports to tenants.

“Tenants have really been able to open up with me and see me as a trusting person who can help them with anything they're struggling with,” Jess says.

For many tenants, their biggest challenge was not having safe, affordable housing. When construction finished and tenants moved in, Jess noticed an immediate impact.

“All the tenants just lit up their first day,” she says.

Beyond safety and shelter, BB’s new home has provided many benefits, including the ability to host family gatherings. Last month, he had his family over for Thanksgiving.

“My brother brought his family over. My little nephews were over, my cousins were over,” BB says. “We had turkey together. We got some pictures. It was great.”

Since 2018, BC Housing has opened 97 homes in Hope. Across the province, 28,179 homes are open or underway.