New operator named for Our Home on 8th supportive housing in Port Alberni

New operator named for Our Home on 8th supportive housing in Port Alberni
BC Housing

Port Alberni Friendship Centre will take over as the operator of the Our Home on 8th supportive housing and shelter after the former operator’s contract was not renewed.

The transition to the new operator will take place on April 1, and the province says residents and guests will not see an interruption of services.

PAFC will take over the operations from the Port Alberni Shelter Society.

This announcement comes after BC Housing decided it would not renew the contract for the shelter society, leaving residents of the building stressed.

“I think it should stay the way it is. This is all I have. I have no family. This is my family,” Belinda Gardener, a shelter resident, told CHEK News in January.

READ MORE FROM JANUARY: ‘Shocked’: Port Alberni shelter residents upset after BC Housing pulls contract

Port Alberni Shelter Society’s executive director Wes Hewitt told CHEK News the announcement the contract wouldn’t be renewed came as a complete surprise.

Our Home on Eighth and its 30 supportive housing units and 23 extreme weather shelter beds opened in 2018 after extensive planning and funding to the tune of $250,000 by the Port Alberni Shelter Society.

So Hewitt said this contract loss feels disingenuous after all the hard work his group has put in.

“And to be served with this four years later is, in my opinion, a travesty,” said Hewitt in January.

At the time, BC Housing did not give a reason for ending the contract with Port Alberni Shelter Society.

In a release on March 20, BC Housing says it chose PAFC to support the residents, most of whom are Indigenous.

Under PAFC, the shelter will provide supports including daily meals, life-skills training, employment assistance and counselling, physical and mental-health resources, and access to addiction treatment and recovery services from experienced staff.

“Indigenous culture will be interwoven into all programs and services by offering opportunities for residents, visitors, and guests to experience culture, language, singing, drumming, and traditional medicines and teachings from Elders and knowledge keepers,” the Ministry of Housing said in a news release.

When the Walyaqil Tiny Shelter Village in Port Alberni opens in spring 2023, PAFC will also be the operator, according to BC Housing.

RELATED: Victoria’s temporary ‘Tiny Town’ shelter granted extension to September 30

-With files from CHEK’s Skye Ryan.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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