People living in south Nanaimo are going to see some major changes at a supportive housing site for the city’s vulnerable.
On Tuesday morning, construction crews started to move modular housing onto the site located at 702 Nicol St.
Once completed it will be the first permanent supportive housing built for those once homeless since Discontent City closed in December of 2018.
Lee Penner, who lives nearby, has been among those watching with interest.
“I enjoy it. It’s construction. You forget about the reason for the building and whatever and you watch the construction and it’s great,” said Penner.
But Penner is among the neighbours who have concerns about a potential increase in crime.
“We hope it’s good but it’s a bit scary.”
BC Housing says the project will have 52 individual studio suites, with another seven, with two beds, for vulnerable women as a bridge to housing.
“This is really exciting for Nanaimo because we have the temporary workhouse housing since the decampment of 1 Port Place so permanent purpose-built housing has all those supportive housing best practices that our workforce housing didn’t have,” said Heidi Hartman, BC Housing’s regional director of operations for Vancouver Island.
These include one point of access, a community space, the ability to bring in services, and kitchenettes and bathrooms in each unit.
Nanaimo’s mayor says it’s desperately needed.
“A significant portion of our street population are folks who need supports in order to succeed in housing and this is exactly the kind of housing, the first of four that we’re seeing built-in Nanaimo as a result of cooperation with the city and I’m extremely thankful to BC Housing and the provincial government,” said Mayor Leonard Krog.
BC Housing says it will be similar to supportive housing built in Campbell River, Parksville and Port Alberni and is being constructed in the Cowichan Valley.
“We’re really proud to be opening up supportive housing sites in many communities because we know the value and importance of keeping people in their community where their supports are,” said Hartman.
However, Penner hopes people moving in will be wanting to improve their lives.
“We hope the right people move into these places and we’re not opposed to visiting them on the streets and trying to be a part of their well-being but we want to make sure it’s successful,” said Penner.
The project is expected to be complete for occupancy by early fall and is part of a number of supportive housing sites planned for Nanaimo.