The new 54-unit Skaha Lake Road supportive housing in Penticton set to open this June with a focus on recovery and healing may be the first of its kind in B.C., said Bob Hughes, director of ASK Wellness Society.
Shauna Fox, executive director of the Ooknakane Friendship Centre along with Hughes, presented a brief overview to city council last week of how they envision the Snpaʔx̌təntn will work.
The BC Housing project is named Snpaʔx̌təntn in the Syilx language, which translates to Healing House.
This type of recovery housing doesn’t exist anywhere else, confirmed Hughes from a question about where else this model has been tried before.
If this new recovery-based housing works, it could be a model for the rest of the province, council said.
The innovation of this program is residents living there are expected to live free of non-subscribed medications and other substances, he said. This is long-term housing, unlike most treatment programs that are 30 to 90 days long.
“Creating a community adhering to recovery, we’ll see better results,” Hughes said.
Kenneth Scott is the coordinator of Burdock House and he will be the lead on the opening of Snpaʔx̌təntn, said Hughes.
“Homelessness and addictions and issues related to this have presented tremendous challenges on communities. We’ve seen with our shelter services are in extreme demand, and supportive housing has had criticism in this community,” said Hughes.
“Relapse is always a possibility but falling back into the streets is something we need to intervene in. For those with an opioid dependence, they are working with Interior Health for subscribed supply including suboxone.
“We are conscious that this needs to land properly. We aren’t going to be racing to fill the building. This is a new way of delivering recovery,” he added.
A minimum of 30 per cent of the beds will be allocated to Indigenous people, said Fox.
There will be 24/7 staff, Hughes promised. Residents will have access to two meals per day. Staff will include housing support workers, peer recovery support coaches, employment rehabilitation workers, a drug and alcohol counsellor and a cultural support worker.
This is not the first time a project in Penticton run by ASK Wellness has been promised with supports. The Burdock House, when it opened in 2019, also promised that its “wrap-around supports will help people heal from the experience of being homeless and give them a stable foundation on which to build a better life.”
An audit of BC Housing’s projects in Penticton in 2022 found a shortfall of supports and necessary services for people living in Burdock House.
This is what prompted city council to get a letter of agreement with BC Housing in order to allow a permit for the two-acre site.
BC Housing is under obligation to publish a report after one year to see how Snpaʔx̌təntn is operating, said Mayor Julius Bloomfield last week.
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