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IN THE NEWS: Phoenix steps in as operator of Abbotsford transitional housing program

IN THE NEWS: Phoenix steps in as operator of Abbotsford transitional housing program

Vikki Hopes, Abbotsford News – BC Housing is providing more than $149,000 in temporary emergency funding after an Abbotsford transitional-housing society announced in August that it was dissolving.

The money will support 19 residents who were previously housed through the Many Ways Home Housing Society, a non-profit society started in 2019 out of the city’s Homelessness Task Force.

The agency rented properties from landlords for people who would otherwise have difficulty finding housing on their own. Some of the tenants have substance-abuse issues and other have criminal backgrounds or mental-health challenges.

A total of 45 people were being housed through Many Ways in August, when they were given only a few days’ notice that they had to vacate by Aug. 25.

The agency said it had to shut down due to several reasons, including lack of funds to pay an outreach worker and executive director and the fact that they couldn’t renew their directors’ and officers’ insurance.

They said they had spent six months trying to find another agency to take over, to no avail.

But within 48 hours of the matter being made public, Many Ways said none of the tenants would have to move after all.

They said another agency – Embers – had stepped forward to take over a six-townhouse property on Westbury Avenue amounting to 24 beds, and plans were in the works for another 19 beds at five different homes.

BC Housing announced on Monday (Sept. 13) that the province was providing $149,000 in funding and that a new operator – Phoenix Drug and Alcohol Recovery and Education Society – would support those 19 residents.

“Our government took decisive action to ensure these residents would not be left without housing and can continue to access the supports they need,” said David Eby, attorney general and minister responsible for housing. “Everyone deserves safe, affordable housing in the community they call home.”

Support offered by the Phoenix Society will include employment help and connection to health services.

Rental agreements will be taken on by Phoenix, which will review property costs, connect with local resident resources and develop a “community action plan for long-term tenant sustainability.”

Phoenix Society CEO Keir Macdonald thanked the province, BC Housing and the City of Abbotsford for ensuring the tenants could remain in their residences.

“As homelessness continues to rise in Abbotsford and across the entire region, we must work together toward ensuring everyone has a place to call home,” he said.

Mayor Henry Braun also thanked all the parties involved.

“We know that housing is a key determinant of health and well-being, and the city will continue to advocate for these important services to be supported in Abbotsford,” he said.

BC Housing is in ongoing discussions with non-profit groups to find a permanent model for the program, and more details will be announced when a decision has been made.

(PHOTO: Jared Davidson, tenant. Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)