Langley’s first supportive housing project aimed at getting people off the streets opened Monday, with the first five of 49 residents moving in.
“Ecstatic!” was how Janet Burden, executive director of Stepping Stone Community Services, described her feelings.
“It’s so exciting,” said Burden. “It’s been two years since we first started talking about converting that building into supportive housing.”
Creek Stone Place, as the new facility is named, is located in a former Quality Inn in the 6400 block of 200th Street. The project is funded by BC Housing and will be run locally by Stepping Stone.
Originally scheduled to open in the spring after approval from Langley Township council late last year, the start of operations were delayed as contractors found problems during renovations.
Creek Stone is designed for people who have been living homeless on the streets or in temporary shelters. It is low-barrier housing, intended to get people inside, provide them stability in housing, and access to other supports ranging from job training to health care to addiction and mental health treatment.
The fact that residents won’t have to be drug-free to move in drew criticism from some nearby residents during lengthy public open houses and hearings in 2018.
But those concerns were outweighed by the need to house some of the approximately 200 homeless people living in Langley right now, councillors said at last December’s vote.
There will be 49 people in all once the former Quality Inn is full, said Burden. The successful applicants among Langley’s homeless were informed Oct. 21.
They’ll be moving in over a two-week period from Monday, with five people a day moving in.
“It’s to help people get settled in the building,” said Burden.
Staff can support a smooth transition with the staged move-ins.
“It’s going to be a big adjustment for a lot of people,” said Burden.
The Intensive Case Management Team (ICMT) which was set up in 2017 to combat homelessness in Langley will be moving its office into Creek Stone, along with the support staff. Full and part time staff will include tenant support workers, cooks, a maintenance worker, and the program manager, Brittany Maple.
The strong opposition from some nearby neighbours in the Langley Meadows area also means community input. A Community Advisory Committee has been set up and met three times this year. Some members went on a tour last week, said Burden, and another meeting is set up on Nov. 16. Local politicians and RCMP are also involved in the team to hear concerns and provide feedback.
Residents worried about a possible increase in crime and drug dealing in the area.