14:28 PM

Vernon youth gains independence with affordable housing

Linden moved to his first home in spring 2023

Moving out is hard for anyone. It’s tougher for people facing barriers. The Okanagan Village Housing Society (OVHS) and family helped. Linden’s new home is a subsidized one-bedroom rental unit at the Village at Pleasant Valley in Vernon. Linden, who lives with autism, now has a place to call his own.

OVHS creates inclusive communities 

OVHS is the owner-operator of The Village at Pleasant Valley. Cindy Masters is the Executive Director and Kara Reynolds is the Building Manager.

Cindy and Kara help build inclusive communities. Each community includes people from all walks of life and all types of households. People with diverse abilities with a range of household incomes. Including lower-income workers, families and pensioners.

“At OVHS we prioritize folks outside of traditional rental programs. We also have market rental homes. These offer a lower-rent cost option than the private market. We find more diverse tenants and household incomes create stronger communities. Neighbours help each other,” says Cindy.

OVHS is a registered charity. Mandated to develop permanent inventory of managed, safe, comfortable and below-market rental housing.

Finding affordable housing was a big hurdle

Like many communities, the average rent for a one-bedroom in Vernon is high. Too high for anyone living on a disability income. That’s where OVHS steps in. The timing was perfect. The Village at Pleasant Valley was accepting housing applications.

OVHS rents are below market-rent rates

Tenants are people with a range of lower incomes and abilities. People getting deep subsidy to those with rent help (rent-geared-to-income). Also, people living in lower market rent homes.

The building includes 12 one-, two- and three- bedroom units. Two units are accessible for people using wheelchairs. Two other adaptable units are flexible. Unit changes are easy to do if tenants need more mobility support.

Not all diverse-abled people need accessible housing

Linden did not need an accessible suite, but he and his mom Andrea needed help applying for housing. Cindy walked Andrea and Linden through the 2-part housing application process. First applying to the BC Housing Registry, then completing the OVHS application.

“Trust the process. This is easier than you think.” says Andrea, Linden’s mom.

Cindy and Kara make applicants comfortable applying

As needed, OVHS supports applicants through each application step. Lots of people need advocacy and help applying for housing. Cindy and Kara take time to coach and help people through the process.

Getting shortlisted for a unit at The Village at Pleasant Valley felt like winning the Lotto! 

Andrea, Linden’s mom

It is ok to ask for help applying. Reach out if you need support

Linden moved from 100% family support at home to living independently

According to Linden, the best part about having his own place is “freedom!” The hardest part, “budgeting and being responsible. Now I need to consider things like paper towels, toilet paper, planning meals and budgets.”

Andrea’s take on Linden’s move, “It’s a joy watching him go through this. Now he’s on his own, our relationship is shifting. From caregiver-parent to more family-parent.”

More about Linden and OVHS

Watch BC Housing’s  Let's Talk Housing podcast with host Sara, guests Linden, Cindy and Andrea. 

The Province and partners helped OVHS build The Village at Pleasant Valley

This project is part of a $19-billion housing investment by the B.C. government. Since 2017, the Province has delivered or has underway nearly 78,000 units. Including more than 500 homes in Vernon.

Photo L-R: Linden with his mom Andrea. Photo Credit: BC Housing