Wendy Richardson, executive director of the John Howard Society of North Island, addresses a crowd Friday at the opening of a supportive housing project in Courtenay. At left is Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard. Scott Stanfield photo

New supportive housing project opens in Courtenay

The Junction is a three-storey 46-unit apartment building housing the homeless

Carol says life is better at The Junction than it was at the Mariner Apartments.

She had been living in a ground-floor suite at the Comox building that flooded in January, then lived in a trailer for three months before being accepted into the newly-opened supportive housing project in Courtenay. “It’s gorgeous, I love it,” said Carol, who has a view of Mount Washington from her second-floor suite. “The rooms are beautiful. The community has come together for all of us. They’ve supplied everything for us — make us feel at home.”

Carol and other Junction residents pay $375 a month — the social assistance shelter allowance provided by the B.C. government. Rent includes two meals a day. If tenants can’t make it for dinner, they will have a meal waiting when they come home.

“They should have done this years ago,” said Carol, who has lived in the Comox Valley since 1969. “I raised my kids here.”

Located at 988 Eighth St., The Junction is a three-storey modular apartment building that is housing people experiencing homelessness. It contains 46 units that each have a kitchenette and washroom. Two units have been designed for individuals with physical challenges.

The ground floor includes a commercial grade kitchen, common dining area and laundry facilities.

“There are people in our community that have been living without the peace of mind that comes with having a place to call home,” Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard said at a Friday ceremony to open the facility.

Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells considers The Junction to be one step on a “long journey to restore non-market housing.” Combined with the recent opening of the Braidwood affordable rental complex in East Courtenay, he notes that 81 new housing units have been added to the city this year.

“This supportive housing facility will offer more than just shelter for its residents. It’s a path forward to a better life through access to life skills, health care and coaching, led by people who care about them,” Wells said. “The City of Courtenay is incredibly grateful to the Province and BC Housing for making this project a reality, and paving the way to a brighter future for these members of our community.”

John Howard Society of North Island (JHSNI) will operate the building and provide residents with 24/7 support services, which include meal programs, life and employment skills training, health and wellness support services, and opportunities for volunteer work.

“We are so grateful to the City of Courtenay and BC Housing for creating this essential service that will change the lives of our vulnerable citizens who are experiencing chronic homelessness,” said JHSNI executive director Wendy Richardson. “We all benefit when these kinds of supports are available, and people are no longer sleeping on the streets.”

The John Howard Society also operates a transitional housing facility for youth dubbed The Station, formerly Abbeyfield House, next door to The Junction.

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