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B.C. housing minister tours Kelowna’s tiny home community ahead of move-ins

A so-called tiny home community in Kelowna, B.C., is nearing completion.

But ahead of people experiencing homelessness who’ll be moving into the 60 garden-shed-sized homes, B.C.’s housing minister toured the site.

“I’m really pleased 60 units are up and running,” said Ravi Kahlon. “Kelowna has shown a real leadership when it comes to not only approving but also helping fast track this type of housing. ”

The city’s mayor said it was exciting that the tiny-home community, called Step Place, is almost complete.

“This whole process started less than a year ago when we initially saw these tiny homes in Toronto,” said Kelowna Mayor Tom Dyas.

The John Howard Society is the operator of the site.

“It’s a bed, it’s a desk, it’s a little mini fridge,” said Patricia Bacon, executive director of the John Howard Society of Okanagan and Kootenay. “It’s a little piece of your own real estate, kind of thing.”

In addition to the homes, there are washroom and laundry facilities on-site, as well as all kinds of support services for mental health, addictions and life skills.

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“We really wanted to create a vision that was really about a person’s sense of dignity, well-being and sense of developing independence,” Bacon said.

The vast majority of residents moving into the tiny homes are currently in shelters, and the hope is their relocation frees up shelter space for those in outdoor encampments.

“People are kind of languishing in shelter, and the idea is to create a pathway out of shelter,” Bacon told Global News.

“We have five shelters in Kelowna. There are people that are kind of stuck and they would probably be happy in a setup like this.”

The move-ins will be gradual and will start at month’s end. The process is expected to take about three weeks.

The site will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Modular housing is also being constructed along Highway 97 near McCurdy Road. Once completed sometime this spring, it will also house 60 people.

Dyas also confirmed Friday that the city is looking for another site for more tiny homes.

“There will be a third site,” Dyas said. “We’re actively looking, but it’s nothing that we can announce right at this time.”

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