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Mission shelter to close months after new housing opens

City will be short on shelter beds for youth after Diamond Head closes and Hurd Street housing opens
The temporary use permit for the former Diamond Head Motor Inn in Mission to be used as a shelter will expire 60 days after new housing on Hurd Street opens. /Dillon White Photo

With 50 new supportive homes coming to Hurd Street, the clock is ticking on the shelter at the former Diamond Head Motor Inn.

Once the BC Housing project on the former site of Dr. H. G. Humes Park opens in the coming months, the Diamond Head will have 60 days remaining on its temporary use permit issued by the city.

The Diamond Head has been operated as a shelter by Mission Community Services Society (MCSS) and leased by BC Housing for the past three years.

“It was meant as a pandemic shelter. It only was allowed to stay open because we had Hurd Street coming,” MCSS executive director Nate McCready said.

There are 34 beds at the Diamond Head, six of which are reserved for youth. The spaces for youth will be lost when the Diamond Head closes its doors.

Only adults aged 19 and older are eligible to stay in shelters under BC Housing rules.

Mission Youth House director Calvin Williams says the youth beds were full at the Diamond Head earlier in the year and a local youth nearly became homeless since the only available bed was in Surrey.

“Because he was in Surrey all alone — he couldn’t handle it. So he found transit back to Mission because he didn’t want to be in Surrey alone,” Williams said. “So that’s a big problem that has now just gotten worse.”

While some shelters have special facilities for youth according to BC Housing’s website, McCready says nothing is in place right now to accommodate youth when the Diamond Head closes.

“We’re looking to bring in shelter space but it’s difficult. BC Housing doesn’t do youth-specific programming and the [Ministry of Children and Family Development] doesn’t do shelters,” he said.

However, demand for shelter space isn’t particularly high for youth in Mission, according to McCready. He says the six spaces for youth at the Diamond Head are rarely full. The space averages about four people with some residents who would also qualify to be in the adult shelter.

After the Diamond Head shelter closes, McCready says it will go back into the developer’s hands. He hopes the impact of the closure will be minimal.

“We were very happy to be operating the Diamond Head for the city for the last three years,” McCready said.

McCready says there’s a need for improved shelter space in Mission. If the city has between 50 and 60 shelter spaces, he expects that would be enough.

“We need a rehousing program — sort of a purpose-built shelter that is designed to work with people. Right now we’re in a warehouse. It’s very difficult to do proper case planning and really give the service that we would like to give,” he said.

With Haven in the Hollow, Rivendell Second Stage Housing, and the new Hurd Street housing, McCready expects a bit of a shuffle among residents.

“We’re hoping to accommodate everyone,” he said.

A community information session was held about the housing at 7460 Hurd Street on March 12. BC Housing’s website anticipates the building to open in spring 2024.

READ MORE: ‘We simply cannot save every single project’: Kahlon on rejected affordable housing in Mission

Dillon White

About the Author: Dillon White

I joined the Mission Record in November of 2022 after moving to B.C. from Nova Scotia earlier in the year.
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