A new affordable housing unit is set to open this September in Sooke. The Hope Centre is located at 6750 West Coast Road, where the old St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store used to sit. The 25-unit building of one-bedroom and bachelor suites will house people aged 19-32 making under $40,000 a year who have struggled with homelessness. If there are two people living in a suite, they cannot collectively make over $40,000 a year.
“We’re looking for people that have ties to Sooke or [are] Sooke residents,” said Kevin Albers, CEO of M’akola Housing Society, adding they are also giving priority to First Nations people, although it is not a requirement.
“But if two people apply to the same housing unit and one person is First Nations, the First Nations person would get preference,” said Albers.
There have been concerns from community members surrounding the project, said Albers. One concern is that it is either a halfway house or supportive housing. Albers wants to dispel these thoughts.
“We don’t provide actual support to the tenants,” said Albers. “We provide a safe, affordable living environment for them.”
While the building staff will connect residents with support groups if asked, Albers said they will not interfere or get directly involved.
“We’re trying to give them a helping hand up as opposed to a hand out, and trying to support them with the basic first need of housing.”
According to a recent study done in Sooke, homeless youth (ages 19-31) was one of the highest priorities, said Albers. “We responded to a need; we didn’t create a solution looking for a need,” said Albers. “
Rents will range from $375 to the mid-$800’s depending on the size of the unit and whether or not the residents are on income assistance. Those people would qualify for a lower rent unit.
No residents have been selected to live in the Hope Centre yet, but applications are being taken, and can be accessed on the centre’s website. A selection process will be used to select the tenants.
M’akola manages around 1,600 housing units throughout B.C., but this will be the first one in Sooke.
The Hope Centre is expected to open on Sept. 1.
by Andrea Peacock