After being stalled by challenges like funding woes and public opposition, an opening ceremony was held for the Chilliwack Health and Housing Complex, also known as the Health Contact Centre, on Oct. 16.
Dignitaries, stakeholders and housing residents came together to celebrate the development, which has been eight years in the making.
Earlene Thomson, 45, was the fourth resident admitted to the centre and has been living there for about one month.
Struggling with drug addiction and homelessness throughout her entire life, Thomson said support services offered at the centre and outreach staff have made her finally feel at home and given her a new start in life.
"This is my home and I didn't have this and I wouldn't have this if it wouldn't be for this place," Thomson said, as she held back tears.
"I'd be out there in the cold, and the winter's coming. And I've been out there for the winters and it's not good because it's hard. .. it's hard to be drug free when you're homeless because you have nowhere else to go."
The centre has been hailed as a "one-stop shop" for the homeless, mentally ill and individuals who struggle with drug addiction.
The two-storey building, once a Days Inn, has 22 supportive housing units fully equipped with a kitchenette and bathroom, which will be managed by the Pacific Community Resources Society (PCRS).
A broad range of community support services like addictions counselling and life skills programming are available onsite, and will be delivered by PCRS and Fraser Health.
The B.C. government contributed more than $3.5 million towards capital costs for the project and $230,000 in annual operational funding for the residential component. Funding was also provided by partners like the City of Chilliwack, PCRS, Real Estate Foundation of B.C. and Fraser Health.
Since opening in August, the centre has admitted 10 residents.
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