The modular units for Fort St. John’s new supportive housing project have started to arrive, and construction crews hope to begin pouring concrete for the foundation in the coming weeks.
The province has partnered with the Salvation Army to build the new four-storey complex next to the Northern Centre of Hope on 99 Avenue downtown, which will include 42 housing units, office space, laundry facilities, a dining room, and a commercial kitchen.
Fort St. John Salvation Army Executive Director Jared Braun says the $15-million project will go a long way in helping those in need in the city.
“It’s really about offering more options for those who are homeless or on the verge of becoming homeless. It’s difficult for them to maintain community housing without the supports,” said Braun. “These units will offer a lot of opportunity for people who would otherwise be threatened with homelessness or are living on the street or are in and out of our shelter.”
A survey conducted last year found homelessness up 25% in Fort St. John. Braun noted that many people in the city are also sleeping in vehicles or couch surfing, with no permanent residence to call their own.
“People having their own home will really help with overcoming any challenges that brought them to that place, whether it’s mental health, employment barriers, addiction struggles. It’s a huge step in feeling like they have hope to tackle those issues,” said Braun.
Each housing unit will include a private bathroom, kitchenette, and storage, and a covered walkway will connect the new building to the Northern Centre of Hope. Once completed, the building will be operated by the Salvation Army, which will also provide support services for residents.
The modular units that will make up the building have already begun arriving, and it’s expected they will start to be assembled by the end of October or the beginning of November. The concrete foundation is expected to be poured in the next few weeks, with construction targeted to be complete by spring 2022.
“Of course they’re fighting against weather and timing and all that kind of stuff,” Braun said. “We’ll see how things transpire through the winter.”
Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News