Federal funding has been confirmed for plans to convert the former Coast High Country Inn into a 55-unit supportive housing development proposed by the Safe at Home Society.
A total of $15 million in federal funding for the project was announced at a virtual press conference on Jan. 31.
“This funding provides Safe at Home Society the opportunity to build a dynamic, safe and affordable space for Yukoners who are otherwise marginalized through their experience of homelessness,” said Kate Mechan, executive director of the Safe at Home Society, a group focused on addressing homelessness.
“The growing need for permanent supportive housing options in Whitehorse is real and dire, and Safe at Home Society is committed to being part of the solution. Meaningful collaboration is central to this project’s success and we embrace the challenge to shift community perception and be at the heart of a vibrant downtown.”
During the announcement the plans for the project were outlined again as they have been since last year when the project was brought forward. The plans will see the former hotel renovated for the 55 living suites with the ground floor to serve as a community space. Seventy-five per cent of the units will go to Indigenous residents, with 50 per cent designated for women. Sixteen studio units will be allocated for youth.
Mechan said the timeline for the project located at 4051 4th Ave. will see the renos “begin immenently” and continue throughout the summer, with a goal of having the first tenants in September.
Safe At Home Society will take a phased approach to move ins, with all tenants expected to move between September and December.
The federal funding will see $10 million come from the northern carve out of the National Housing Co-Investment Fund with the remaining $5 million coming from the expanded Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI).
The announcement comes about five months after Whitehorse city council voted to submit the application for the Safe at Home Society’s project to the federal RHI with the city identified as an eligible municipality for $5 million in funding.
“Increased housing opportunities is a priority for the City of Whitehorse, and we are pleased to work with our territorial and federal government partners to help make that happen,” Whitehorse Mayor Laura Cabott said. “This funding will have a direct impact on our most vulnerable citizens, many of whom are experiencing homelessness. I would like to thank the federal government, as well as the Safe at Home Society, for supporting this important initiative.”
Also speaking to the funding at the press conference was federal Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion Ahmed Hussen, Yukon MP Brendan Hanley and the territory’s minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation Ranj Pillai, who all highlighted the benefits of the project.
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