More than 50 new supportive homes open in Penticton
People experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Penticton, including Indigenous people, are moving into 54 new homes with recovery-focused cultural supports.
"We know that supportive homes with culturally safe environments are fundamental to breaking the cycle of homelessness," said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. "Through our Homes for People action plan, the unique supports offered at snpaʔx̌təntn will ensure that residents' cultural needs are met throughout their recovery journey."
Located at 3240 Skaha Lake Rd., the new building has been named snpaʔx̌təntn [sin-pow_h-tan-tn], which means "a healing place" in Nsyilxcən, the language spoken by the Syilx peoples. Also known as Healing House, this supportive housing provides Indigenous-focused and culturally safe supports for people who want to live in an environment free from alcohol and substance use in their recovery journey.
"The journey that Ooknakane Friendship Centre, ASK Wellness, BC Housing and the Penticton Indian Band have forged, nurtured and grown is a testament to the challenging work required toward advancing reconciliation on the traditional and ancestorial lands of the Okanagan people," said Shauna Fox, executive director of Ooknakane Friendship Centre. "snpa?xtentn is a model of how we begin the process."
ASK Wellness Society, in partnership with Ooknakane Friendship Centre (OFC), is operating the building. Staff are on site 24/7 to provide supports, including meal programs, life and employment skills training, alcohol and drug counselling, and culturally driven health- and wellness-support services.
"On behalf of our Band Council and the Penticton Band Community, we congratulate ASK Wellness Society on this amazing achievement," said Chief Greg Gabriel of the Penticton Indian Band. "I would also like to recognize and acknowledge the wonderful partners who were also instrumental in what we are witnessing today. This amazing and much-needed supportive housing facility wouldn't be possible without the hard work and co-operation of all those involved."
The four-storey building has 52 studio homes and two one-bedroom units for couples who are on their recovery journey together. Three of the units are fully accessible. Each unit has its own bathroom, kitchenette and basic furnishings. Residents started moving into the building in August 2023, with 36 units currently occupied. Indigenous people are being prioritized in the resident-selection process.
"We are honoured to partner with OFC to create a culturally safe and recovery-focused supportive housing program, which is one of the first of its kind in the province," said Bob Hughes, executive officer of ASK Wellness Society. "By creating a mosaic of supportive and affordable housing in Penticton, we further complement the existing housing programs and broaden the options for people who are living without homes."
Local Indigenous artists also contributed to the building, providing commissioned artwork through the OFC to further incorporate the Syilx culture into the building.
The Province, through BC Housing, provided approximately $15.9 million to the project through the Building BC: Supportive Housing Fund and will provide an annual operating subsidy of approximately $1.8 million.
This project is part of a $19-billion housing investment by the B.C. government. Since 2017, the Province has more than 77,000 homes that have been delivered or are underway, including approximately 280 homes in Penticton.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs -
"As the president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, I am pleased and excited to support the leadership of Ooknakane Friendship Centre and the partnership of ASK Wellness Society, BC Housing and the Penticton Indian Band. This work is very important in serving the housing needs of those in recovery."
Roly Russell, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen and Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development -
"Residents of the South Okanagan understand the value of providing safe and stable living spaces for vulnerable people with the supports they need to succeed and help break the cycle of homelessness. This is one more step to help support the community, taken in partnership. This 'Healing House' will offer a comfortable, safe place for Indigenous people to live right here in Penticton and provide them with the full supports they need for healthier living."
Julius Bloomfield, mayor of Penticton -
"The addition of snpaʔx̌təntn to the continuum of housing in Penticton is an example of the power of partnerships. Recovery-based and Indigenous-focused, these homes are another needed and welcome step for those on the journey of recovery. We look forward to developing resources to assist more people going forward."
For more information about snpaʔx̌təntn, visit: https://letstalkhousingbc.ca/penticton-3240-skaha
To learn more about government's new Homes for People action plan, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023HOUS0019-000436
A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C. is available here: https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC
To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for people in British Columbia, visit: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/housing/