The former home of the Shuswap Grill and the McGuire Lake Congregate Living facility will be used to shelter people in the area without homes during the coronovirus pandemic. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

BC Housing to open spaces in Salmon Arm for people homeless during pandemic

Sixty-three units to be used for people considered vulnerable or at-risk of contracting COVID-19

COVID-19 is bringing temporary housing for people in Salmon Arm who are without homes.

The former McGuire Lake Congregate Living facility is part of a plan to provide housing for people who are homeless and otherwise vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic.

BC Housing confirms it has identified two sites in Salmon Arm with 63 spaces total “for vulnerable people to reside, including those who are immunocompromised or otherwise at risk of contracting COVID-19.”

Five of those spaces are for women and children leaving violence, the other 58 are at the former McGuire Lake housing complex at 551 Trans-Canada Hwy., also formerly home to the Shuswap Grill.

“The former McGuire Lake Congregate Living facility has been identified as an additional site to support vulnerable people and we are in the process of finalizing details to begin operations. BC Housing and its partners are continuing to look at a number of ways to bring people inside and options continue to evolve along with the needs of the community,” stated an email from B.C. Housing.

The lease is expected to be finalized this week (the week of May 4), but it’s not certain when people will be able to move in.

Although bed bugs were discovered several months ago in the facility, the building was treated. BC Housing stated it has since been re-checked and the bugs are no longer an issue.

A spokesperson for the owners told the Observer in January that the previous lessee had been in significant arrears since 2014, and his lease was terminated in July 2019. A ‘courtesy notice’ was posted on the building in September 2019 after the building’s owners learned its tenants and residents hadn’t been informed of the situation. The building was vacated by the beginning of October.

Read more: Seniors at Salmon Arm assisted living facility shocked by Oct. 1 eviction notice

Read more: Freezing cold emphasizes need for drop-in centre for Salmon Arm’s homeless

The current search for housing during the pandemic continues.

“We recognize that supports are needed in Salmon Arm to help people experiencing homelessness during this difficult time. We are in the process of securing additional spaces for vulnerable people in the community and are in negotiations with local hotels,” BC Housing stated.

If and when contracts get finalized for additional spaces, BC Housing will list new sites on its website:

Read more: People who are homeless in Salmon Arm provide consultants with key information

Read more: COVID-19 – Staying home in Salmon Arm is difficult when you don’t have one

Meanwhile, work continues on the housing project at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Third Street SW which is a partnership between BC Housing and the Canadian Mental Health Association, Shuswap-Revelstoke. Underway are 67 units in two four-storey affordable rental buildings for families, seniors and people with disabilities, expected to be complete in winter of this year. A third building, expected to be finished in fall 2021, will contain 38 supportive units for people without homes. Each unit will be a self-contained studio that includes a bathroom and kitchenette. A communal kitchen, dining area and laundry facilities will also be provided on-site.

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